Too Proud to Bend:
Journey of a Civil Rights Foot Soldier
Nell Braxton Gibson
Book contrasts author’s childhood experiences in an integrated summer camp to life in the deeply segregated South and chronicles her passionate and growing involvement in the
Civil Rights movement in the twentieth century and beyond
Nell Braxton Gibson’s newly published memoir Too Proud to Bend: Journey of a Civil Rights Foot Soldier reflects her upbringing in the twentieth century Deep South, her profound and consuming response to the evils of segregation, and her awareness that the haunting and horrific 1955 murder of Emmett Till is reflected today in the ongoing murders of black men and boys at the hands of police.
Gibson was just fourteen months old when her family fled a race riot in Beaumont, Texas. She was sixteen when her parents sent her and her younger sister from their home in deeply segregated Mississippi to an integrated camp in New York’s Catskill Mountains to give them an experience different from the one they were living at home.
It was there at Camp Woodland that Gibson got her first glimpse of the kind of life integration could offer. It was the memory of that camp experience that led her to walk picket lines, register first-time black voters, spend time in jail in Atlanta, Georgia, and devote her life to seeking social justice and equal opportunities for all people.
The daughter of two African American educators who worked with civil rights leader Medgar Evers to increase membership in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at a time when you could be killed for belonging to that organization, Gibson went on to work with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and an international group of religious leaders on a five-year plan to dismantle apartheid.
She explains, “My personal experiences provide the background that gives a human face to historical events that later became national headlines, seamlessly blending stories of family life with the relentless undercurrent of the evils of segregation and the long road to freedom.”
She adds, “Too Proud to Bend is a triumphant testament to those civil rights foot soldiers who were willing to give their lives to bring justice and equality to a racially torn segregated South. When people finish reading it, I want them to know that average people like any of us can change our world for the better.”
“This autobiography is not simply a story of one remarkable woman’s life but rather a story of African American life from childhood through young adulthood in the Jim Crow South…Her story ends [with her] dancing with her longtime colleague and friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the eve of Barack Obama’s first inauguration. She closes this part of her life’s story recognizing the goal of the Civil Rights Movement was never to elect the first African American president but to open the avenues for social justice and equal opportunity for all people who have been denied equal access. While this is an intimate and moving personal history, it is much more; it is the story of our times. History certainly matters, but for Braxton Gibson, the future is what matters most.” ~ Review by LDT “Critical Eye”
Author: Nell Braxton Gibson holds a bachelor of arts degree in cultural studies from Empire State College and an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University. Following her marriage and relocation to New York City, she and her husband became members of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery’s Black and Brown Caucus, working with members of the Black Panther Party to offer free breakfast for children on the Lower East Side and to start a liberation school. They also founded the first prison law library in New York State. In the 1980s, Gibson joined the anti-apartheid movement and was among religious leaders arrested outside the South African Consulate in New York City. She was later chosen as one of three members of the Episcopal Church to travel to South Africa and work with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and an international group of religious leaders on a five-year plan to dismantle apartheid. Her work for justice has taken her into the war zones of Namibia and Nicaragua, the Gaza Strip, the townships of apartheid South Africa, and into Cuba, Panama, and alongside migrant workers in upstate New York.
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Thank you, Mr. Zick. Nelly Gibson