Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black

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9780452275331: Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
 
“A triumph of storytelling as well as a triumph of spirit.”—Alex Kotlowitz, award-winning author of There Are No Children Here

As a child in 1950s segregated Virginia, Gregory Howard Williams grew up believing he was white. But when the family business failed and his parents’ marriage fell apart, Williams discovered that his dark-skinned father, who had been passing as Italian-American, was half black. The family split up, and Greg, his younger brother, and their father moved to Muncie, Indiana, where the young boys learned the truth about their heritage. Overnight, Greg Williams became black.
 
In this extraordinary and powerful memoir, Williams recounts his remarkable journey along the color line and illuminates the contrasts between the black and white worlds: one of privilege, opportunity and comfort, the other of deprivation, repression, and struggle. He tells of the hostility and prejudice he encountered all too often, from both blacks and whites, and the surprising moments of encouragement and acceptance he found from each.
 
Life on the Color Line is a uniquely important book. It is a wonderfully inspiring testament of purpose, perseverance, and human triumph.
 
“Heartbreaking and uplifting... a searing book about race and prejudice in America... brims with insights that only someone who has lived on both sides of the racial divide could gain.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

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About the Author:

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.

From Booklist:

The title sounds like tabloid sensationalism, but Williams' memoir is, in fact, a moving story of growing up on both sides of the nation's racial thicket. Williams' mother was white and his father was able to "pass," so their children, growing up in northern Virginia, thought they were Italian. The parents split up in the mid-1950s, and Buster Williams' alcoholism drove him into bankruptcy, so the charming ne'er-do-well took his two older boys to his darker-skinned family in Muncie, Indiana (just miles across town from their maternal relatives, most of whom no longer acknowledged their existence). Buster Williams encouraged Greg to study and aspire to great things and taught younger brother Mike to hustle, but he was unable to care for the boys and allowed a pious widow to take them in. In grade school and junior and senior high, Greg had to prove himself to both races over and over again: white girls were off-limits, of course, but the sight of him with African American girls of various shades also caused consternation. School records were marked to make sure teachers would realize he was "colored." Life on the Color Line follows Williams to college and to a brief, painful reunion with his natural mother. A powerful tale of a young man's struggle on the cusp of the nation's racial conflicts and confusions. Mary Carroll

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Gregory Howard Williams and his younger brother, Mike, grew up believing they were white and that their darkskinned father was of Italian descent. Then their parents marriage disintegrated, their mother departed, and their father s business ventures sank into a sea of liquor. Pursued by debt and personal demons, Tony Williams took his two boys to his hometown of Muncie, Indiana, where he was known as Buster, and where there was no escape from the truth he had hidden for so long. The truth was as plain as the color of Buster s family. Gregory and Mike Williams were the sons of a brilliant and charming but troubled black man who fled the burden of race until need drove him back to his roots. Suddenly Gregory and Mike discovered they were black as well, strangers in a segregated world about which they knew nothing, forced to learn the strategies of survival amid the poverty, prejudice, and agonizing absurdities of a time and place where racism flourished. In this extraordinary and powerful memoir, Gregory Howard Williams recounts his remarkable journey along the color line and illuminates the contrasts between the black and white worlds: one of privilege, opportunity, and comfort, the other of deprivation, repression, and struggle. He tells the story of his father, a self-destructive man who often neglected his children, yet had faith in his eldest son s ability to succeed in the face of nearly insurmountable obstacles. Of Miss Dora, a loving family friend who gave Gregory and his brother the food they ate, the clothes on their backs, and the roof over their heads - all on a salary of just twenty-five dollars per week. Of the hostility and prejudice he encountered all too often,from both blacks and whites, and the surprising moments of encouragement and acceptance he found from each. Williams tells the story, too, of the divergent paths he and his brother eventually took, one defying the odds and the advice of teachers and counselors to become a lawyer, th. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780452275331

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Gregory Howard Williams and his younger brother, Mike, grew up believing they were white and that their darkskinned father was of Italian descent. Then their parents marriage disintegrated, their mother departed, and their father s business ventures sank into a sea of liquor. Pursued by debt and personal demons, Tony Williams took his two boys to his hometown of Muncie, Indiana, where he was known as Buster, and where there was no escape from the truth he had hidden for so long. The truth was as plain as the color of Buster s family. Gregory and Mike Williams were the sons of a brilliant and charming but troubled black man who fled the burden of race until need drove him back to his roots. Suddenly Gregory and Mike discovered they were black as well, strangers in a segregated world about which they knew nothing, forced to learn the strategies of survival amid the poverty, prejudice, and agonizing absurdities of a time and place where racism flourished. In this extraordinary and powerful memoir, Gregory Howard Williams recounts his remarkable journey along the color line and illuminates the contrasts between the black and white worlds: one of privilege, opportunity, and comfort, the other of deprivation, repression, and struggle. He tells the story of his father, a self-destructive man who often neglected his children, yet had faith in his eldest son s ability to succeed in the face of nearly insurmountable obstacles. Of Miss Dora, a loving family friend who gave Gregory and his brother the food they ate, the clothes on their backs, and the roof over their heads - all on a salary of just twenty-five dollars per week. Of the hostility and prejudice he encountered all too often,from both blacks and whites, and the surprising moments of encouragement and acceptance he found from each. Williams tells the story, too, of the divergent paths he and his brother eventually took, one defying the odds and the advice of teachers and counselors to become a lawyer, th. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780452275331

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Book Description Plume Books 2/1/1996, 1996. Paperback or Softback. Book Condition: New. Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black. Book. Bookseller Inventory # BBS-9780452275331

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Gregory Howard Williams and his younger brother, Mike, grew up believing they were white and that their darkskinned father was of Italian descent. Then their parents marriage disintegrated, their mother departed, and their father s business ventures sank into a sea of liquor. Pursued by debt and personal demons, Tony Williams took his two boys to his hometown of Muncie, Indiana, where he was known as Buster, and where there was no escape from the truth he had hidden for so long. The truth was as plain as the color of Buster s family. Gregory and Mike Williams were the sons of a brilliant and charming but troubled black man who fled the burden of race until need drove him back to his roots. Suddenly Gregory and Mike discovered they were black as well, strangers in a segregated world about which they knew nothing, forced to learn the strategies of survival amid the poverty, prejudice, and agonizing absurdities of a time and place where racism flourished. In this extraordinary and powerful memoir, Gregory Howard Williams recounts his remarkable journey along the color line and illuminates the contrasts between the black and white worlds: one of privilege, opportunity, and comfort, the other of deprivation, repression, and struggle. He tells the story of his father, a self-destructive man who often neglected his children, yet had faith in his eldest son s ability to succeed in the face of nearly insurmountable obstacles. Of Miss Dora, a loving family friend who gave Gregory and his brother the food they ate, the clothes on their backs, and the roof over their heads - all on a salary of just twenty-five dollars per week. Of the hostility and prejudice he encountered all too often,from both blacks and whites, and the surprising moments of encouragement and acceptance he found from each. Williams tells the story, too, of the divergent paths he and his brother eventually took, one defying the odds and the advice of teachers and counselors to become a lawyer, th. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780452275331

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