A painstakingly researched and affecting study.

VOICES AND VISIONS

THE EVOLUTION OF THE BLACK EXPERIENCE AT NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

A wide-ranging history of the evolving experience of African-Americans at Northwestern University.

While historians have often neglected to record the accomplishments of African-Americans, there has always been an alternative fount of information on the black experience in America: a vibrant oral tradition. Debut author Lowery and Sterling (Behind the Curtain, 2016) aim to capture the lessons of that tradition in writing by presenting the history of the black experience at Northwestern University through a series of interviews with its notable black graduates. They cover a broad swath of historical terrain—campus life, the experience of the black athlete, the tumultuous emergence of black activism, and the transformation of the institution from one that once excluded blacks from living on campus to one that makes a concerted effort to welcome them. The authors both movingly and meticulously depict that transformation. In 1902, Isabella Ellis’ first roommate protested sharing living quarters with a black roommate, and in the same year, Northwestern officially adopted a policy of housing segregation, not overturned until 1953. Stanley L. Hill, another graduate, was surprised to find the campus a tinderbox of activism even after so much watershed civil rights legislation had passed by the mid-’60s, and he participated in the takeover of the bursar’s office in 1968. The sum result of this institutional evolution is not a campus without prejudice but one committed to the development of each student regardless of race. According to the current provost: “There are unique needs across communities that are driven by different sets of cultural experiences, racial experiences, class-based experiences, etc., but I think it’s always important to articulate that fact that we are going to do the best we can so that every student can just be a student.” Both Lowery and Sterling graduated from Northwestern, and Sterling serves as president of the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association (Lowery once served as its vice president). The authors’ enthusiastic devotion to the university is constantly evident, and their knowledge of the institution’s history is breathtaking. One can only imagine the hours of labor it took to conduct and record dozens of thoughtful interviews. The result is rare: a massive archive of historical information that is not only a valuable scholarly reference, but a readable book brimming with insight and drama. Also, Lowery and Sterling supply an unvarnished account of a complex evolution that isn’t a simple triumph of good over evil. Alexandria Bobbitt graduated in 2016 and recounts her encounter with “blatant racism” despite years of progress and hard-won improvement. The authors clearly intended to capture the totality of the black experience, one that inevitably includes not only collegiate success and acceptance, but also the struggle against a prejudice that has proved remarkably persistent. They vividly limn the history of a people, of the diminishing but stubborn forces that discriminate against them, and the metamorphosis of the institution that ultimately championed their cause. This is an astonishingly instructive book and should be read by all Northwestern students and faculty, African-American and otherwise.

A painstakingly researched and affecting study.

Pub Date: May 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-12737-7

Page Count: 560

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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