The Black Calhouns by Gail Lumet Buckley download in ePub, pdf, iPad
The author, Gail Lumet Buckley, traces generations of her family, beginning with her great-great grandfather, Moses Calhoun to her mother, Lena Horne. She detailed the racist attitude and actions that prevailed in the south, and the effects of Jim Crow.
She also seemingly feels obliged to mention most of the biggest moments or themes in African-American history, regardless of how much they apply to the particular family she's discussing. Those in the north had opportunities but everything wasn't easy. Her roles were often edited out of films before they were shown in the South, where casting an African-American actors as something other than a maid was unthinkable. Compared to many other slaves, Moses was fortunate. Her potted course in American race relations is richer for it.
Her lighter skin was both too black for some white directors and insufficiently black for others who wanted a conspicuous token character. The book is good reading because it deals with discrimination which is still evident in American politics today. She mentioned that Lena could pass as being white, yet Lena was not accepted in the south for acting parts in a movie because she was seen as being black in the south. Even when Buckley does hint at something interesting about her mother, she doesn't probe very deeply.
Buckley argues that for urban and literate African Americans, the Reconstruction years between in were far better than the Jim Crow era that followed them. Buckley's mother was Lena Horne, and Horne's celebrity rather takes over the book. There is so much I personally don't know about the African American history of my own country.
The stories also represent at least a proxy for the untold stories of so many others whose lives have been conveniently forgotten, excised from national consciousness. Her candid portraits of their experiences offer a window onto shameful episodes in American history that are more recent and relevant than many realize. Moses, an ex-slave, through perseverance and literacy established a business of his own and commenced a middle-class for the family.
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