9780826218995

Damn Near White

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780826218995

  • ISBN10:

    0826218997

  • Edition: 3rd
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-10-10
  • Publisher: Univ of Missouri Pr
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Summary

Carolyn Wilkins grew up defending her racial identity. Because of her light complexion and wavy hair, she spent years struggling to convince others that she was black. Her familyrs"s prominence set Carolynrs"s experiences even further apart from those of the average African American. Her father and uncle were well-known lawyers who had graduated from Harvard Law School. Another uncle had been a child prodigy and proteacute;geacute; of Albert Einstein. And her grandfather had been America's first black assistant secretary of labor. Carolyn's parents insisted she follow the color-conscious rituals of Chicago's elite black bourgeoisie-experiences Carolyn recalls as some of the most miserable of her entire life. Only in the company of her mischievous Aunt Marjory, a woman who refused to let the conventions of "proper" black society limit her, does Carolyn feel a true connection to her family's African American heritage. When Aunt Marjory passes away, Carolyn inherits ten bulging scrapbooks filled with family history and memories. What she finds in these photo albums inspires her to discover the truth about her ancestors-a quest that will eventually involve years of research, thousands of miles of travel, and much soul-searching. Carolyn learns that her great-grandfather John Bird Wilkins was born into slavery and went on to become a teacher, inventor, newspaperman, renegade Baptist minister, and a bigamist who abandoned five children. And when she discovers that her grandfather J. Ernest Wilkins may have been forced to resign from his labor department post by members of the Eisenhower administration, Carolyn must confront the bittersweet fruits of her family's generations-long quest for status and approval. Damn Near Whiteis an insiderrs"s portrait of an unusual American family. Readers will be drawn into Carolynrs"s journey as she struggles to redefine herself in light of the long-buried secrets she uncovers. Tackling issues of class, color, and caste, Wilkins reflects on the changes of African American life in U.S. history through her dedicated search to discover her familyrs"s powerful story.

Author Biography

 

Carolyn Marie Wilkins is a Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She has toured South America as a Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. State Department, performed on radio and television with her group SpiritJazz, and worked as a percussionist for the Pittsburgh and Singapore symphonies. She has released four critically acclaimed CDs of her original compositions and is the author of Tips for Singers: Performing, Auditioning, and Rehearsing.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Author's Notep. xi
The Black Bourgeois Bluesp. 1
The Research Begins, 1995p. 11
The Early Career of J. Ernest Wilkinsp. 21
Chicagop. 29
I Discover a New Ancestorp. 39
Memphis, Tennessee, 1874-1878p. 49
The Renegade Baptist, 1885-1887p. 55
The People's Temple, 1887-1888p. 61
The Bigamist, 1889-1915p. 69
St. Louisp. 79
Farmington, Missourip. 91
Blacknessp. 105
J. Ernest Wilkins in Washington, 1953-1955p. 113
In Washington, 1955-1957p. 125
The Civil Rights Commission, 1957-1958p. 145
Epiloguep. 157
Notesp. 161
Bibliographyp. 171
Indexp. 179
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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