12/04/2013 12:42 pm ET

‘Shocking The Conscience' By Simeon Booker With Carol McCabe Booker


For more than half a century, Simeon Booker devoted his career in journalism to race relations, black politics and the evolving movement for civil rights. The stories that he, his fellow black journalists and their white counterparts covered exposed the white South’s brutality and contributed to the gradual mobilization against its repressive racial order.

His captivating memoir, though, is more than one keen eyewitness’s account of the myriad Southern struggles, some well known and others less so, against segregation, disfranchisement and racial terror. As Jet magazine’s Washington bureau chief, Booker covered the news conferences and interviewed the officials — particularly in the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations — who wished, in his words, that the “unstoppable movement” they encountered “would go away.” Equally valuable are his reflections on the working culture of mid-20th-century black journalists who confronted unique dangers while covering stories that white journalists initially ignored but that over time came to absorb the country’s attention.

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