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A Lost Narrative from the Civil Rights Era:

by Paul Spike
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New York Times, A Best Book of the Year, 1973
In 1966, a man killed civil-rights leader Rev. Robert Spike. Was it an assassination? Was it simply murder? Paul Spike attempts to rescue his father and himself with the truth.

“So unforgettable that I felt my heart was breaking when I came to the end.” —Paul Auster, on reading the new edition with Paul Spike's Afterword

"We will always remember his unswerving dedication to the legitimate aspirations of oppressed people for freedom and human dignity. It was my personal pleasure and sacred privilege to work closely with him in various undertakings as we continue to grapple with the ancient evils of man’s inhumanity to man."—Martin Luther King, in a telegram to Robert Spike's widow and two sons after hearing of his friend's murder

“So we not only believe Mr. Spike's story and participate in its comedy, its terror, its extreme pain and ultimate triumph. We also can identify with the author to the point where we understand both his private suffering and the rage he finally vented against the system. For Mr. Spike doesn't whine or exhort or rationalize or rail or ask for sympathy. He simply states how things were with the utmost insight and candor.” —Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times in a review of the first edition of Photographs of My Father. The New York Times would later place the book on its Best of 1973 List.

“We don’t believe these assassinations are an accident. We believe there is a conspiracy. Too many of our most important leaders have been assassinated. John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert, Dr. King, Robert Spike…” —Hosea Williams, SCLC civil rights leader

Product Details

10-digit ISBN1-941026-23-6
13-digit ISBN978-1-941026-23-6
Page Count256
Product Dimensions6 x 9
Publication DateMarch 10, 2016
RightsAll Rights Available
As director of the National Council of Churches, Robert Spike had organized white-dominated churches to support the passage of both the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. Collaborating with major civil rights leaders on strategy, he helped the LBJ White House craft legislation and the President's civil rights speeches, especially on the Voting Rights Act. After he had stepped away from the political arena, he was viciously murdered in Columbus, Ohio. The murder was never solved. Very little effort went into finding the murderer. The Columbus police and the FBI hinted the unsolved murder was the brutal end of a gay relationship. During his father's rise in the civil rights movement, Paul Spike lived a life eerily similar to Holden Caulfield's—a young intellectual lost in the labyrinth of booze, drugs, and girls. At Columbia University, he was on the fringes of the S.D.S. Movement. That rootless life ended with his father's murder.

In the Afterword of this re-issue of Photographs of My Father, Paul Spike says, “Murder is an indelible stain on a family. It never fades. This book I wrote about my father's murder was an attempt to rescue him and myself with the truth. Of course, that was not going to work like I hoped when I was 23 years old. It doesn't matter. I still believe the hard truth can rescue us from the easy delusions of our political history and that is why I want Photographs of My Father—and the truths I learned after this book was first published—to be read today. Now, after almost 50 years, I understand why I tried to do this. And why I left America. I still dream of justice for my father.”

The complete text of Martin Luther King's telegram to Robert Spike's widow and two sons— “Deeply saddened to learn of the death of our dear friend Bob Spike. His death comes as a great loss to the nation and to the fellowship of the committed. He was one of those rare individuals who sought at every point to make religion relevant to the social issues of our time. He lifted religion from the stagnant arena of pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. His brilliant and dedicated work in the National Council of Churches will be an inspiration to generations yet unborn. We will always remember his unswerving dedication to the legitimate aspirations of oppressed people for freedom and human dignity. It was my personal pleasure and sacred privilege to work closely with him in various undertakings as we continue to grapple with the ancient evils of man’s inhumanity to man. We will be sustained and consoled by Bob’s dedicated spirit. Please know that we share your grief at this moment and you have our deepest sympathy and most passionate prayers for strength and guidance in these trying moments.”
Midwest Book Review
Intensely personal, informed and informative, Photographs of My Father by journalist, editor and author Paul Robert Spike is a consistently compelling read from beginning to end — and one that will be of very special interest for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the Civil Rights movement.
- August 1, 2016  Visit Website
full review >>
The Spectator
One of the most remarkable books the [Civil Rights] movement produced is this 1973 family memoir, newly reissued with an afterword by the author. … Spike’s memoir is as compelling as it must have been four decades ago.
- Matthew Walther, October 1, 2016  Visit Website
full review >>
Terry Gilliam, writer, Monty Python
Photographs of My Father has totally consumed the last couple of days of my life, unable as I was to put it down once started. It’s absolutely wonderful.
- Terry Gilliam, September 10, 2016 
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