Item description for Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory Howard Williams...
Overview The author recounts the shock he experienced when he learned that his father's relatives in Muncie, Indiana, were poor and black, and describes the prejudice that he and his brother endured from both sides. Reprint.
Publishers Description A stunning journey to the heart of the racial dilemma in this country.
Citations And Professional Reviews Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black by Gregory Howard Williams has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1998 page 847
New York Times - 03/03/1996 page 28
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.95" Width: 5.27" Height: 0.81" Weight: 0.6 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 1996
ISBN 0452275334 ISBN13 9780452275331 UPC 091857013954
Availability 0 units.
More About Gregory Howard Williams
Gregory Howard Williams is an attorney, law school professor, and the former President of the University of Cincinnati (2009-2012) and the City College of New York (2001-2009). He is the author of Life on the Color Line.
Reviews - What do customers think about Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black?
Inspiring Autobiography Feb 13, 2008
For anyone who pretends to understand the issues of race, poverty, and family, this book is a must read. It lays bare the underbelly of American experience by shining a bright light on discrimination, segregation, the failure of the social systems and the consequences of alcoholism, as well as physical and emotional abuse on children. While the author's situation is understandably frightful while he was a young child, this is nevertheless no maudlin tale. It is recounted sincerely and without the unnecessary pulling of heartstrings. The reader's empathic response needs no teasing out when presented with the straightforward portrayal of the author's upbringing. The fact that this story unravels in Muncie, Indiana, rather than somewhere in the South might come as a surprise to those who believe that the black/white race issue is mostly a regional problem.
This author was able to rise above his difficult childhood, attend college, attend law school and eventually become the Dean of a law school. I have heard him speak in person and to hear him tell some of these same stories in his own voice is downright chilling. Riveting, gripping, and intensely human.
I highly recommend this book.
i cried so many times... Jan 23, 2007
this is such an amazing book that really flips the perceived norms of race. so many things happened to this boy as he was growing up that it is a miracle that he was sane enough to write a coherent memoir. there were so many times that literally moved me to tears. i emphatically recommend this book, you won't regret it.
One of the best books I have ever read Dec 26, 2006
Life on the Color Line should be required reading for every American, especially anyone who wants to put their life's problems in perspective.
This is the most moving book I have read in a long time and I read a lot! William's account of his childhood truly woke me up to how fortunate I am to have the life I have, despite losing my mother at age 20. No one should have to endure the painful struggles of racism, poverty, rejection, parental neglect and abandonment that Williams did, as well as a dysfunctional family to top it off. Whether Williams dated black girls or white ones, he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't.
Life on the Color Line contains many harrowing scenes. One that stood out for me was when William's white maternal grandmother refuses to pass along her daughter's messages to her children after she has left the family. She calls her own grandchildren "niggers" and refuses to let them live with her in a nice section of Muncie only a few minutes away from the black ghetto where they reside with a family friend Miss Dora.
One question that remains unanswered after reading this book is why William's mother only took her younger children with her when she left her husband. Why did she leave Gregory and Mike with their alcoholic father? It doesn't make sense that she would take some of her children to safety with her, but not all of them. The only explanation I can come up with is that Greg's mother figured her older boys were mature enough to fend for themselves. Towards the end of the book, their mother's inability to understand what kind of life she left her boys to leave left me wanting to throw rocks at her and give that woman a good beating.
I am in awe of the author's maturity, courage, and sheer will power that enabled him to overcome all these obstacles. His experiences put my own life in perspective.
I borrowed this book from the library, and now that I've reached the last page, I will definitely be buying it on this site!
To Read and Talk About Nov 1, 2006
I learned about this book in an article in the Baton Rouge newspaper. LSU has assigned it as summer reading for many of their students and a group is working to get others in Baton Rouge to read it as well. At our church's partnership group with a local African-American church we decided to read it as a group project, and I'm glad we did. Williams' memoir tells the fascinating story of a young man who is born into the lower-middle class white world of suburban Virginia only to learn when he is about six years old that his father is the son of a mixed-race couple from Muncie, Indiana. Circumstances resulting from this news takes the boy, his father and his brother to Muncie where they live among their African-American (or colored as they were called in the 1950s) family. Billy's (or Greg) father Tony (or Buster) is an alcoholic, which makes life no less difficult as he's scorned by his white classmates and, with his white skin and Caucasian features, standing on shaky ground in his own colored community. A good-hearted woman named Dora raises the two boys as her own, as their birth mother spurns her now-black children. Dora's kindness and Greg's determination to do more than survive are inspiring.
In the flesh, the man is a wonder. Oct 2, 2006
I had the unusual pleasure of hearing him speak at a public function when this book first came out. In fact, that's how I got my free copy. The story of this man's life is simply amazing. That came through in his honest and heart-felt reflection of the hardships he's had to overcome growing up. I've lived in San Francisco most of my life, attending public school with the normal cross section of the city's diverse ethnic crowd. I can say with a degree of certainty that I'm culturally aware of the African American experience. So it is with a bit of sadness that I regret not having met more people with Williams' ambition and determination when I was younger. To be fair, the circumstances in which his life unfolded would probably be hard to duplicate in this day and age, especially in San Francisco. But regardless, I truly believe young blacks of today, regardless of where they may live can draw inspiration from his story. We all still face a huge amount of inequality and injustice in our society today. With such polarization along political and religious lines in our national conscience as I'm writing this, it is critical to remember that race still matters. The other day, the biology department chair at my school presented a slide show of New Orleans where here Alma Mater was severely damaged by Katrina a year ago. She's a parasitologist with a Ph.D from Tulane University. The contrast between the French quarter/downtown and the poorer residential areas are striking. Those who've read Williams book would immediately draw parallels with the stark geographic division along racial lines of Muncie, Indiana - where Williams grew up. How many other cities in America are New Orleans waiting to happen? If something unthinkable should happen in Muncie today, how will the citizens of that city fare today? Will the impoverished blacks of Hunter's point/Bayview in my own city suffer the same fate as those of the lower 9th ward when the "Big One" strikes California? If more of my fellow black San Franciscans can aspire to be like Williams and strive to lift themselves and their community out of poverty and strife, we just might have a chance at doing better. One can hope.