Inevitably, the Civil War centennial has evoked a book that attempts to size up all the significant events of American Negro life since the Emancipation Proclamation. The scope of the subject being what it is, the author justifiably decided to concentrate principally upon those events and elements which have already attained some historical perspective. The highlights of the years since the death of Booker T. Washington in 1915 are sketched in the final chapters, with a look to the future, but the main part of the study is devoted to the first 60-odd years of Negro freedom and the huge strides made in the awkward Reconstruction era and beyond. Many little-known episodes are explained in detail, such as the migration of the ""exodusters"" from the Deep South to Kansas. Education, religion, and every kind of acculturation are viewed as part of one complex pattern that must be seen in its entirety before the struggle for civil liberties can be fully understood. There is a warm and wholesome quality about this book --particularly those sections devoted to the biographies of outstanding Negro leaders -- that elevates it above the sorry nature of some of the historical details it relates. The cause of human equality is well served by this level-headed backward glance over an awesome and remarkable century.