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ALL IS NEVER SAID by Judith Rollins

ALL IS NEVER SAID

The Narrative of Odette Harper Hines

By Judith Rollins

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-56639-307-8
Publisher: Temple Univ. Press

 A moving biography of an ordinary African-American woman who leads an extraordinary life. Rollins (Africana Studies and Sociology/Wellesley) portrays the life story of Odette Harper Hines, an African-American woman who grew up prosperous and educated in the north, worked as a Red Cross nurse in the segregated European army of WW II, and eventually found her political and spiritual home in the civil rights movement in Louisiana. One of the most exciting aspects of this narrative is Hines's depiction of New York's African-American community in the 1920s. While much has been written about the Harlem Renaissance, the Bronx-reared Hines provides another view-- of a girl who forays into Manhattan for high school, who begins her intellectual quest at Adam Clayton Powell Sr.'s Abyssinian Baptist Church in an aptly named ``Young Thinkers Club.'' She tells entertaining stories of meeting African-American luminaries such as Mary McLeod Bethune, who was a guest at a mutual friend's house in Virginia when Hines was six years old. The family housekeeper, Polly, was shocked to see a wig (not common among black women back then) hanging on Bethune's bedpost. Polly awakened the entire household, screaming that Bethune was a man. Hines and her friend were punished for laughing loudly at what they thought was a very good joke. Hines met Bethune again years later and realized that the wig was Bethune's way of dealing with the black standard of beauty that insisted women must have long, straight hair. There is a humor here, and a tenderness, that makes even iconlike historical figures into living, breathing human beings. ``All is never said'' is a proverb of the West African Ibo people. Rollins proves this adage to be true, especially when it comes to the largely untold female perspective of African-American history.