Ann Jones -- young, white, and bright with a new Ph.D. in English literature -- spent her first year of teaching at a small...

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UNCLE TOM'S CAMPUS

Ann Jones -- young, white, and bright with a new Ph.D. in English literature -- spent her first year of teaching at a small black college in the South, pseudonymously Thomas College, eponymously Uncle Tom's Campus, not out of ""missionary zeal"" but because it was the only job she could get. She's gone now, hastened along by loneliness, frustration, prejudice, suspicion -- what was she ""really doing"" at the college? an agent for the FBI or the CIA or the KKK or just plain ""them""? -- but most of all by her adamant conviction that Thomas (and all the Negro colleges like it) offers a reactionary and dishonest education to its students, that the school's effort to ape white standards, to inculcate plantation values, to produce ""psychological Sambos,"" is exactly counter to blacks' needs for social and cultural identity and pride, and an example of mistaking ""normal"" for ""absurd."" ""What was the difference between mental discipline and moral suicide?"" she asks. ""What is the 'character' of a slave?"" But the college continues to flourish, she tells us, supported handsomely by federal grants secured by the school's president, a dictatorial, underhanded third-rate Booker T. Washington-type who keeps his faculty obsequious and the student body a prisoner of race. The Thomas Colleges should go -- they are ""inefficient, ineffective, and obsolete""; wake up, HEW, or someone -- ""when the cake is moldy. . . throw it out."" A bitter, biting book written out of the emotion of angry experience, but extended by a perception of the need for nothing less than a full and generous humanity. On its terms -- and they are spirited ones -- Uncle Tom's Campus is a notable success.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 1972

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1972