Person’s searing, revelatory, and often-inspiring memoir provides a clear, vivid, and eloquent account of the first segment of the pivotal 1961 Freedom Rides, as experienced by its youngest participant and one of its few remaining survivors. It instructively captures the Riders’ travails to the point where the battered first group found themselves unable to push on and were forced to fly to New Orleans and cede the struggle to reinforcements from Nashville ... Person’s account offers a fine complement to existing literature on the Rides ... Person does a terrific job of contextualizing the Freedom Rides in the arc of the Freedom Movement and his own life by describing his activist baptism in the Atlanta Student Movement ... offers more than a tribute to the Freedom Riders and other activists who put their lives on the line in the face of segregationist massive resistance and stirred the youngest among them, Charles Person, to do likewise. It also aims to teach and inspire readers just joining the struggle, in a time when the work of the Freedom Movement remains undeniably unfinished.
... striking ... Person colorfully evokes his impoverished childhood in Atlanta’s Buttermilk Bottom neighborhood, his introduction to the civil rights movement at Morehouse College, and his shading of the truth in order to get his father to sign a permission slip so he could participate in the inaugural Freedom Ride from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans. He also offers intimate sketches of his fellow Riders, including future congressman John Lewis. Shot through with vivid details of beatdowns, arrests, and awe-inspiring bravery, this inspirational account captures the magnitude of what the early civil rights movement was up against.
A stirring memoir that offers a view of the legacy of the 1961 Freedom Rides on both micro and macro scales ... By recounting his inspiring youthful experiences, the author also creates a forceful call to action for readers to board their own literal or metaphorical buses ... The depth with which the author examines not just his own story, but that of his fellow riders, gives a multifaceted perspective that clearly demonstrates why each was committed to the cause. The throughline for himself is clear, as he articulates early in the book his Papa’s advice to 'do something.' By divulging the inner stories of his fellow riders, Person offers a unique and powerful aggregate view of events ... A vital story, this memoir is also an instructive gift to future generations fighting for change.