From an American Book Award-winning author comes a pungent and poignant masterpiece of recollection that ushers readers into a now-vanished " colored" world and extends and deepens our sense of African-American history, even as it entrances us with its bravura storytelling.
Gates’ telling is memorable for its wittiness and for its earthy relating of fundamentalist Christianity, of lye-and-mashed-potato treatments on black hair, and of fighting racial indignities. Gates, a skilled author, learned how to be a man, not at Yale, but among colored people overcoming segregation. His hometown of Piedmont was divided into a black culture and a white culture until the schools became integrated just before Gates entered first grade. Integration changed things and horizons. Gates eventually graduated valedictorian of his class and dated a white lady during his freshman year of college.
While those familiar with Gates only through the White-House beer summit might stereotype him as an “angry black intellectual,” this work clearly places him on the side of reason, logic, and love. He is consistently eloquent and respectful in tone. He wrote this book as a letter to his daughters so as to explain the mystery of their family. Unlike other memoirs by black figures, he said he wrote this work deliberately – “without a white editor looking over his shoulder.” He wanted to portray the black culture which raised him unvarnished, warts and blessings together. Fortunately for us, he accomplishes this task and more through a lens open to enlighten all who might read.