I've Known Rivers: Lives Of Loss And Liberation

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9780201581201: I've Known Rivers: Lives Of Loss And Liberation
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In I’ve Known Rivers, sociologist Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot practices her unique human archaeology,” peeling back the layers of six extraordinary lives. What she creates is a wholly original work, a penetrating portrait of the lives of middle-class African-Americans that has not been seen before.The six storytellers in Lightfoot’s work are poised in midlife, the time we all look back as a way to anticipate the future. In dialogue with Lightfoot, they reconstruct their lives with heroic candor, reflecting on the necessary losses,” the price of privelege. Any reader, regardless of race or gender, will identify with these lives, with the wya thses storytellers live with contradiction, change rage into love, and search for ways to give forward.”Together these stories assume the power of a great novel, and through the mixture of losses and gains, despair and hope, trauma and recovery, ambivalence and ambition, Lightfoot presents a very all-American tale: the universal story of people moving up and out of their communities of origin toward some uncharted future.Lightfoot’s subjects represent a vast range of experience:Katie Cannon, a tenured professor of theology, writes her illiterate father for the first time. Charles Ogletree, a renowned criminal defense lawyer teaching at Harvard Law School, is haunted by memories of a close friend, in jail for life. The rape of her mother and the pain of her illgitimacy open the story of Toni Schiesler, research chemist and former nun. Tony Earls, a psychiatrist studying the roots of violence, enjoys the way both science and jazz improvisation enrich his research. A balance between public acclaim and intimate relationships is the enduring goal of Cheryle Wills, a glamorous and successful entrepreneur. In the final protrait, Orlando Bagwell, a documentary filmmaker, creates work that reveals the beautiful/ugly truths of history.

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About the Author:

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is Professor of Education at Harvard University.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A refreshing and inspiring look into the lives of six successful African-Americans. Lawrence-Lightfoot (Sociology/Harvard; Balm in Gilead, 1988, etc.) is perturbed by some sociologists' portrayal of the black middle class as ``materialistic bourgeois assimilationists.'' To counter that perception, she richly portrays six African-Americans. In extended conversations with her, they detail their experiences: the often riveting events that have molded their feelings about race, their attempts to negotiate the crossing between black and white society; the lives they have created for themselves, both personally and professionally. Among these exemplary people are: Toni Schiesler, a female candidate for the Episcopal priesthood; Charles Ogletree, a criminal defense lawyer and professor at Harvard Law School; Felton Earls, an epidemiologist and psychiatrist at Harvard's School of Public Health; and Cheryle Wills, entrepreneur and owner of radio and television stations. While all have achieved great success in their fields, their backgrounds differ widely. Schiesler was the illegitimate daughter of a rape victim. Earls, on the other hand, was born into a solidly middle-class family that had deep roots in New Orleans. Yet a few themes do recur. One is the cultural obsession with skin color among middle-class blacks, and a caste system favoring lighter complexions. Another theme is their intense empathy for less fortunate African-Americans. All six claim to understand the rage that surfaced in L.A. in 1992--seeing the riots as symptomatic of racism in American society. ``It wasn't senseless...it was the decades of brutalization,'' says Wills. The book doesn't present a full picture of the black middle class, with its diverse approaches to politics and debates about assimilation--but it doesn't claim to. Lawrence-Lightfoot presents successful people determined to remember where they--individually and as a people--came from, and she brings her formidable storytelling gifts to their lives. (Book- of-the-Month Club main selection; author tour) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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9780140249705: I've Known Rivers: Lives of Loss and Liberation

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ISBN 10:  0140249702 ISBN 13:  9780140249705
Publisher: Penguin Books, 1995
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