James Lyles has written an absorbing memoir of his life, beginning as an impoverished child in Depression-era Arkansas and eventually becoming a highly educated and well-traveled religious leader of a major Protestant denomination.
His story spans the most important era of African American advancement in the post-slavery period. He was an eyewitness as well as a participant in that half-century of the black liberation struggle...
Growing up in rural Arkansas in the midst of the Great Depression, he describes an early life reminiscent of Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road of the 1930s and ‘40s. The account could serve as a documented history of African American life during that time. His narrative is written also against the backdrop of some of the most memorable civil rights incidents, such as the Little Rock High School integration riots and the killing of Emmett Till. Also, he relates in telling detail the little-reported story of the racial integration of Perkins School of Theology on the campus of Southern Methodist University—an event in which he was a participant.
As an ordained clergyman, his adventures and misadventures, took him to small towns, large cities, college campuses, the armed forces, a foreign mission bureaucracy, and the continent of Africa, all of which he relates with remarkable candor.
Jim Lyles’s exciting memoir illustrates how many splendored a life of faith can be.