I recently finished reading the memoir No Turning Back: My Summer with Daddy King by Gurdon Brewster. My grandma’s book club read it and she recommended it to my husband. When he finished it he told me “you should read this too” and so I did. What a great story!
Gurdon Brewster recounts the summer of 1961 when he, a white seminary student from the north, lived with Reverend Martin Luther King Sr., affectionately known as “Daddy King,” and Mrs. King (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s parents) and served at their church, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. While he had great ideas about racial reconciliation, he was very naive and was shocked by the realities of segregation and deeply disappointed by the apathy of the white churches. More than once, his life was on the line for simply being friends with black people.
More than an eye opening first hand account of segregation in the south, this memoir is also a tribute to Daddy King and the relationship the two men formed that summer. Each became so important to the other that their relationship was like that of father and son. It was beautiful to get to know prominent figures like the Kings as regular people and to better understand their lives, their convictions and beliefs, and their favorite flavor of ice cream.
This memoir successfully immerses you in another time and place and therefore expands your understanding of our country’s history. It also introduces you to the real people and the real motivations behind the Civil Rights Movement. You too will be charmed by Gurdon and his earnestness and Daddy King and his wisdom and patience. Don’t deny yourself a memorable read.