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This is the autobiography of a woman whose exceptional social conscience and actions are an example of the influence one person can have on society without being in a lofty political position. As a young woman, Dorothy Sterling's concern for working people in America led her to the Communist Party in the 1930s, a refuge for many with noble intentions. In the 1950s, her concern for the plight of African Americans led her to integrate her own community of Rye, New York. She went on to become one of the most prolific authors of works of African American History, first for young readers with books such as Mary Jane, the first book about a young black girl growing up in the South. Later works for adults were equally important and influential. Sterling's fascination and concern for the environment led her to write a wonderful natural history guide to Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Long Island, and the Islands in between. Still active at 90, her most recent triumph was to open her own road to oystermen, whose access to local salt flats had been denied by wealthy summer residents.
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Dorothy Sterling (1913-2008) was a native New Yorker who lived for many years on Cape Cod in Wellfleet. She made many trips to Nantucket, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, and Long Island. She was a painstaking and thorough researcher with a long list of natural history, biography, and fiction books to her credit.From Publishers Weekly:
Sterling, an activist and author of more than 30 nonfiction works, many of them African-American biographies, turns her gaze inward in this humble and steady autobiography. Sterling traces her life, from her German immigrant beginnings in the Bronx, through her long career writing books for Time/Life, the many political stances she’s taken (communist, anti-racist, feminist), to her current life, which finds her at age 90, widowed and living alone. Sterling is sober and smart about her life’s defining moments. She describes significant historical experiences with personal perspective and unfailing authenticity, including her involvement in the Federal Writers’ Project during the New Deal, the underground 1950s Communist movement, the Civil Rights movement and other events. But she also creates a valuable portrait of her domestic life, describing her struggle to be a journalist, activist, wife and mother all at once. It’s at these moments that Sterling’s writing is most powerful and her quality of character most evident. Sterling’s story is one of profound persistence, a testament to the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach to making the world a better place. Speaking of her book Tender Warriors, which documented the desegregation of schools from children’s points of view, she writes: "I still wanted to grab people and say, ‘This is what is going on. These are the heroes we should be celebrating.’ " Her message applies to this memoir, too.
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