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Publishers WeeklyIn this well-written family memoir, former U.S. foreign service officer Grant presents an African-American family history that forgoes the epic sweep of the Civil Rights story to illuminate the difficult everyday life of a middle class black family in the first half of the 20th century. Focusing on the lives of her parents and grandparents, Grant's St. Louis story captures the strong voices of her family and the ambivalent tenor of their times. The facets of institutional racism are many and not always expected; Grant's father, a lawyer and an early activist, found himself in jail more than once: "the police had been told, 'Just call him boy and he'll give you grounds to lock him up' which they did, and I gave them reason." Grant's mother claims she never felt racism during her "cocoonlike upbringing," and remarks that on Chicago's south side, "It was actually quite a lot of fun being segregated.... There was music everywhere and there were so many swank clubs." Grant also shares tales of her own upbringing in a mostly white neighborhood, her pioneering grandmother-the first African-American embalmer-and a few marquee names like Cab Calloway and Josephine Baker. Covering an underreported facet of the 20th century American experience with detail and devotion, this insightful read should hold meaning for many. 60 color illus.
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