Sammy Younge, Jr

by Phoebe Adams
by James Forman. Grove, $5.95. Sammy Younge, a black activist student, was shot in Tuskegee, Alabama, on January 3, 1966, by a white man who was identified, brought to trial, and predictably acquitted. Mr. Forman, an officer of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, has written Younge’s biography as a memorial to his colleague and also to an event which convinced many young Negroes that nonviolence was an inadequate policy. Although its tone is remarkably unemotional, given the combination of author and subject, the book arouses both sympathy and anger, and also offers the white reader a view of people exactly like his own. Sammy Younge emerges as an impatient, illogical juvenile reformer whose capacity to irritate his elders would have functioned regardless of his color. The wary, stuffy, middle-class play-it-safers at Tuskegee can be duplicated in any white academic community. One sees the ordinary world reflected in a sinister fun-house mirror, and although the effect may be unintentional on the author’s part, it is jolting.