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Scholarship Boy: Meditations on Family and Race

Scholarship Boy: Meditations on Family and Race

by Larry I. Palmer
Scholarship Boy: Meditations on Family and Race

Scholarship Boy: Meditations on Family and Race

by Larry I. Palmer


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"Palmer was fourteen years old in September 1958 when he made the unlikely journey alone by train to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. It is impossible to read this boy’s story―‘ninth child of ten, and the sixth of seven sons’―without feeling the loneliness of that first passage away from home―a black boy crossing into a bastion of white privilege―and the scale of the transformation that awaited him."―Carrie Brown, author of The Stargazer's Sister

In 1958, fourteen-year-old Larry Palmer left his parents and nine siblings at home in St. Louis and boarded a train to attend Phillips Exeter Academy (then an all boys’ school) on full scholarship. In Scholarship Boy Palmer reflects on his experiences as a young black boy growing up far from home, learning to fit into a white world without becoming estranged from his closely-knit family.

Palmer delves back into the early years of his childhood, and at times all the way to his family’s past in rural Arkansas before he was born, and brings the reader up to his undergraduate years at Harvard and his father’s death while he attended Yale Law School in the 1960s. The ninth of ten children, he writes about the delicate, complex balances within the family and illustrates the ways his sibling relationships shaped him as he was also being molded by his elite education. Palmer's journey from being the “next-to-the-baby” of his family into adulthood reveals the personal and often hidden costs of cultural migration.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589881457
Publisher: Dry, Paul Books, Incorporated
Publication date: 05/26/2020
Pages: 258
Sales rank: 1,092,526
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Larry I. Palmer is professor of law emeritus at Cornell University, where he spent 27 years as a teacher, scholar, and vice president. He also held appointments at University of Louisville School of Medicine, Georgetown Law Center, University of Virginia, University of Texas at Austin, Rutgers-Camden Law School, Cambridge University, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the College of William and Mary. His scholarly writing focused on health policy and bioethics, including two books and a collaboration that produced an educational video on The Tuskegee Study of Syphilis in Negro Men. Since 2015, his essays have appeared in New England Review and VCU Blackbird and been cited as notable essays in Best American Essays. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Preface xi

Part I "Get the Boy on the Train"

1 The Haircut 3

2 Where Are You From? 16

3 Wrestling 33

4 Troublemaker 48

5 My Brothers Secret 59

6 Alone 78

7 The Attendance Card 91

Part II Straddling Two Worlds

8 Separation 99

9 The Wall 116

10 To Kiss or Not to Kiss 123

11 A Broken Leg 131

12 Dancing with My Sister 149

Part III Grief in Slow Motion

13 Our Wayward Black Sheep 167

14 A Tour of Headstones 183

15 Uncle Larry 190

16 Promise and Potential 199

17 Dad's Cane 218

18 The Widow's Escort 240

19 Family Picture 247

Acknowledgments 257

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