Taylor Gibbs’ (Social Welfare, Emerita/Univ. of California, Berkeley; Children of Color: Psychological Interventions with Culturally Diverse Youth, 2003, etc.) comprehensive memoir gives an account of a remarkable family of political and civil rights activists during one of the most socially turbulent times in our nation’s history.
Born to prominent black Baptist minister Julian Taylor and his wife, Margaret, Taylor Gibbs grew up in a large family that included not only her own siblings, but also several troubled foster children. Living in relative economic privilege in predominantly white New England, both of Taylor Gibbs’ parents were nevertheless deeply committed to political and social justice issues, campaigning for high-profile Democratic politicians and working extensively with the NAACP. Firmly entrenched in the civil rights movement, Taylor Gibbs and her family came to know and work alongside an astonishing number of political luminaries and activists—Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, a young Martin Luther King Jr. (who took Taylor Gibbs to church several times after their fathers met at the National Baptist Convention), Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Clintons (the author’s son Geoffrey was an aide to Bill Clinton during his time as governor of Arkansas) and the Obamas. Academic as well as civic-minded, Taylor Gibbs attended Radcliffe College to study sociology before going on to pursue graduate degrees in social welfare and a doctorate in clinical psychology. With her exhaustive academic and real-world experience, Taylor Gibbs brings a unique perspective to issues of social justice, women’s rights and racial equality, as well as their often complicated points of intersection. For instance, she candidly recalls visiting Thurgood Marshall, a close family friend, to ask for a summer internship in the NAACP, for which she was more than amply qualified. His condescension toward her, punctuated with a pat on the rump as she was leaving, provides a testament to the increased difficulties faced by ambitious women of color.
A fascinating private dispatch from the front lines, full of insights into a time of historic social change.