Remarkable Pauli Murray--lawyer, educator, Episcopal priest--retells the tales that sustained her equally remarkable...

READ REVIEW

PROUD SHOES: The Story of an American Family

Remarkable Pauli Murray--lawyer, educator, Episcopal priest--retells the tales that sustained her equally remarkable American family, unwelcome in their own land. Mainly this is the story of the maternal grandparents who raised her after her mother died when Murray was three. Proud, fiery Grandmother Cornelia Smith Fitzgerald was born in slavery in North Carolina, fathered by a white man, and partly raised by his unconventional but grudging sister. Grandfather Robert Fitzgerald came from a free black farming family in Pennsylvania, was shot in the eye while serving as a teamster in the Union Army, went south after the war to teach in Quaker freedman's schools. He battled the Klan and Iris growing blindness as night, riders trampled black hopes of emancipation. In the end this pair who struggled into old age to provide for six children--most carrying on as educators--left little behind them, save for hundreds of freedmen made literate, and their own children and grandchild Murray taught by example to walk in proud shoes. In these recollections (bolstered by a good deal of factual historical material), Murray comes to terms with a complex black-white genealogy many ""black"" or ""white"" writers steer clear of. But this is not so much a search for roots as a deeply moving memorial to Robert Fitzgerald, a dignified, generous, and exacting man who inspired granddaughter Murray after his death to place a Union flag on his southern grave and to write this book. Originally published in the Fifties--before its time--the book slipped by. Now, clearly, its time has come. Militant black readers may quarrel with the generous spirit Murray inherited from grandfather Fitzgerald. White readers will be both shamed and inspired by the story of a man and his family who (to use the old-fashioned term) ""rose above"" the times they lived in. This is an absorbing, often funny, and heartening tale that makes us think we can be better than we are.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 1978

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1978