The Making of a Rebel
by Emil Willimetz
A well-written memoir of an unconventional life, Gringo
offers both general readers and scholars a journey behind the lines of the Great Depression,
combat in Normandy and northern Germany, and early civil rights and labor organizing in the South.
Willimetz's sense of time, place, and character is acute. When he's in the thick of the action,
Gringo reads like good fiction.
This autobiography, which ends at midlife, contains historically valuable portraits of
Black Mountain College in the late 1930s, the Highlander Folk School under educator
Myles Horton in the 1940s and '50s, and CIO organizing projects, including the attempt
to bring the plains-based Farmers' Union to Tennessee in the late '40s. Willimetz was
deeply involved with all these projects, and their
leading actors help shape the life he tells.
"Emil writes with wit and keen observation (of) the pressures on our country during the
Depression years, World War Two, and through labor and civil rights organizing in the 1940s
and 50s. He illuminates important centers of education and activity like Black Mountain
College and the Highlander Folk School. This is a wonderful book for anyone who wants to
deepen an understanding of American history and the struggles of ordinary people who have
helped shape it. Gringo is an enjoyable and deeply satisfying read."
-- Guy and Candie Carawan, Highlander Research & Education Center.
"Throughout his life Emil was a committed activist and reformer . . .
from his high school days organizing anti-war strikes to his work in Tennessee with the
Farmers Union and with those incipient years of nonviolent training of civil rights workers.
Gringo evokes in a plain yet forceful way one man's commitment to securing for all the civil
liberties, rights, and better life our nation promises but has not always delivered without
the struggle of many good men and women." --
Peggy Robinson, Senior Producer, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer
About the Author
Emil Willimetz was a student at Black Mountain College in the late 1930s
and a documentary film-maker at Highlander Folk School. He lived in Maine with his wife,
where he was at work on the second volume of his
autobiography when he died in July 2003.
Autobiography, History. $26.95, 6" x 9", 536 pages, 78 black and white photographs, cloth,
105 Maple Juice Lane
Cushing, ME 04563
Phone: (207) 354-8966