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» » Life on the Color Line
Life on the Color Line

Life on the Color Line

Gregory Howard Williams
PDF book size:
1254 kb
ePub book size:
1101 kb
Fb2 book size:
1955 kb
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4.9 of 5
Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (February 1, 1995)
Ethnic and National
The dean of the Ohio State University College of Law recounts his meeting of his father's people in Muncie, Indiana, the shock he experienced when he learned he was half black, and the prejudice that he and his brother endured from both sides. 25,000 first printing. Tour.
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7 Reviews
  • I will forever treasure this book as so very few books stop me in my tracks and force me to take a step back. Prior to reading Life on the Color Line I thought it was impossible for anyone, particularly a white person, to understand the black experience if they were not black. Sympathize certainly, and empathize maybe, but actually know it... no way. Greg Williams is the first man who proved me wrong in this thought.

    This is a dynamic memoir. Each time I look at Greg's smiling face on the cover reduces me to tears. Makes me think, what if there were no people in the world like his father, and mother, and Miss Dora, and the many people of Muncie... would there be a drive to help others? Would it alter they way we compete? Extolling another demographic of social intolerance intrinsic to the individual and collective human need to feel worthy... be superior? Would it ever lead a man such as Mr. Williams to bring his experiences to positions of influence that inspire us to take that step back to see further from a deeper scope?

    Outside of appreciating the tremendously uplifting premise, I laughed the hardest about the rooster and that dang Buster kissing President Kennedy! Just as I did, Greg found a way to find humor in some of his father's embarrassments, which otherwise may have left him powerless to become the man he became. The greatest penchants however, were the numerous lessons he took from his father, and Miss Dora. There just aren't enough words to express what a spiritually grounded woman Miss Dora was. So much is contained in this book. No word is wasted. Every page rocks with raw emotion. Life on the Color Line is an absolute inspirational must read.

  • This is an intriguing book. Life on the Color Line was a story of two young boys to men. I knew one of these men when in high school; my History Teacher. Never would I have suspected the hard life he had lived. He was the most dedicated teacher I had in all my years in high school. He wanted us to achieve and now I know why.

  • This is an intriguing memoir that allows the reader to see what life was like for the author whose early life was defined by issues of race and color. The author had spent his early years in Virginia, where his white mother and his dark-skinned "Italian" father operated a roadside tavern. Growing up in the South, where issues of race and color were so important, the author had always thought that he was white, as he had been raised as such. When his parents' business, as well as their marriage, collapsed, his mother left them, forcing his father to return home to his roots in Muncie, Indiana. Abandoned by their mother, it was there that the author and his younger brother, Mike, were to discover which side of the then great color divide he and his brother were on. The lesson would be a difficult one.
    In Muncie, Indiana, they were to discover that their father, rather than being Italian, was bi-racial, born of the union of a Black woman and a White father. In those times, however, you were considered to be either White or Black. So in Indiana, he was Black, even though, ironically, in the South he had passed for White. Now, his children, Greg and Mike, were to learn that, notwithstanding their appearance, they were considered to be Black, and forced to live in a segregated world on the wrong side of the race and color divide. They quickly learned what it was to be considered second class citizens. This was the nineteen fifties, during the heyday of the Klu Klux Klan, and well before the Civil Rights Movement had taken hold, so feelings ran very high on issues of race and color.
    Looking as if they were White but considered to be Black, the boys found themselves in a limbo of sorts, rejected by both Whites and Blacks. They had to learn how to maneuver in this crazy patchwork quilt of absurd and confusing racial notions that would marginalize their existence and make them the target for every miscreant on either side of the race and color divide. This was to have great impact on the brothers, as they each found their own personal coping mechanism for the deprivation, poverty, hostility and prejudice that circumscribed their life in Indiana. Unfortunately, they ultimately each took divergent paths. The author would seek legitimate work and higher education as a way to forge ahead in life, while Mike would seek solace in the lure of easy money, easy women, and life in the fast lane, a choice that would end in personal tragedy for him.
    The book clearly delineates the fact that, in the nineteen fifties, there were two Americas that existed side by side. One America was born of privilege and opportunity reserved for Whites. The other America was one of repression and lack of opportunity reserved for Blacks. Clearly, those who were defined as Black but wished to pass for White did not do so because of racial hatred. They did so as a way of bypassing a hated system that could so circumscribe someone's potential and ability to seek a better way of life. Who is White? Who is Black? These are questions that should generally be unnecessary. The response should be, "Who cares?".
    The author focuses on his early life, the part that evidently caused him so much pain, while skimming on the latter part of his life. It would have been interesting to have spent some additional time on the latter part, to see how those early experiences affected or shaped the man he was to become and is today. Still, this is an intriguing memoir that is written by someone who has lived in these two Americas and endured. It is a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.