Colored people

by Henry Louis Gates

Paper Book, 1995




London : Viking, 1995


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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member scottjpearson
Professor Gates is perhaps best known to the American people for being invited by President Obama to the “beer summit” on the White House lawn. More notably, he is an esteemed professor at Harvard and author of many works of literature. This work is his most accessible and, perhaps, his most entertaining. Simply, this work memorializes his childhood in West Virginia as his small hometown overcame segregation.

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.

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