'Fire on the Bayou'
Published on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 12:27pm
In Fire on the Bayou, Howard Feinstein tells the story of the struggle to enforce civil rights laws and fight hate crimes in the South (and a couple of more northern spots), in the volatile period after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
I could actually feel the danger simmering beneath the surface in the small towns and the back roads where he and the other Justice Department lawyers went in pursuit of evidence against the wrongs visited upon African Americans -- cross burnings, beatings, harassment by police. He also takes you into the trials themselves -- frightened witnesses, or none, disappearing evidence, all-white juries, yet in spite of all that, triumphs of justice as well as failures. Being threatened and followed was the norm; he and his colleagues didn't use their own names for motel check-in.
His description of his own background and how it led to this career is highly readable, and often hilarious. His take at the end of the book on how things were, and how they have changed, myths and truths about the civil rights struggle, and some of its leaders, is deeply thought-provoking.
Mr. Feinstein's book, Fire on the Bayou, will be available for purchase and signing.
March 6, 6 p.m., inside Room 209.