Responding to the troubled racial landscape of 1990's America- -where the press reports endlessly on black ``failure'' and professional blacks Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill gain prominence through scandal—Edwards (coauthor, Muhammad Ali, YA, 1977) and Polite (a psychologist specializing in the problems of the black middle class) offer a worthy glimpse into the world of black success. Martin Luther King's ``I Have a Dream'' speech embodied the hope that America could truly be a land with ``liberty and justice for all.'' The ``children of the dream,'' the authors say, are those who have lived that hope, and their stories, punctuated by psycho/sociological analysis, make up this series of vivid docudramas. Edwards and Polite begin with the black entrepreneurs who emerged out of slavery—such as Madame C.J. Walker, who, selling black beauty products door-to-door, became the country's first black millionaire in 1916. But, the authors point out, it wasn't long before ``separate but equal'' segregation was imposed on the ``free'' black population, proving itself a vicious institutionalization of racism. Only with the 1954 landmark ruling of Brown v. Board of Education (``Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal'') were the racist assumptions of segregation effectively shattered. With integration came the hope of education—and a new world of opportunity. The authors interview a wide variety of successful ``children of integration,'' documenting how they gradually made inroads into the ``white'' realms of higher education and the workplace (from business to broadcast TV). Though overcoming racism is a tireless battle, Edwards and Polite say, blacks who not only survive but succeed are invariably those empowered by their own self-confidence. Plodding at times, with too many overly detailed case histories, but still a much-needed book in an ongoing struggle.
Read full book review >