HALF A MAN: The Status of the Negro in New York by Mary White Ovington

HALF A MAN: The Status of the Negro in New York

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Over half a century old, this pioneer work in the study of Negro Americans is rather quaint but far from outdated. Miss Ovington, a progressive from a well-to-do family who went the settlement worker to socialist route, was unique among the great woman reformers of her time in focusing all of her energies on the achievement of full-citizen status for the Negro. She became a close friend of W. E. B. DuBois and a leading spirit in the formation of the NAACP. Her study of the social and economic conditions of New York's Negroes is compounded of direct knowledge--her experience with tenement living in N.Y.C., her close observations of the situation of blacks in the urban and rural South--reinforced by data from official sources. Black militants may not appreciate Enlightenment circa 1911--the laudatory stress upon the respectability, law-abidingness, Sunday school attendance, good table manners, refined home decors, and prettily dressed children of the decent colored people. Miss Ovington's decided moral opinions are also reflected in her particular horror at ""the grave number of depraved Negro girls."" But even if the tone tends to be mild and the presentation unpolemical, she hits hard with the facts when it comes to discrimination in housing, employment, private schools, restaurants, hotels, and everywhere else. Although adamant for equal opportunity with whites, she is also sympathetic to the importance of black community feeling. The book lacks notably fresh insights for a racism-conscious society, but there are points of some contemporary as well as considerable historical interest.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1969
ISBN: 1430469668
Publisher: Hill & Wang