COLOR ME DARK by Patricia C. McKissack


The Diary of Nellie Lee Love, The Great Migration North
Age Range: 11 - 14
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In this new addition to the Dear America series, life in 1919 is peaceful and happy for Nellie Lee Love and her family in the little town of Bradford Corners, Tennessee. Not much happens; about the only excitement is the occasional letter from Nellie’s Uncle Pace, still a soldier in France. The arrival each month of the NAACP magazine, The Crisis, is the only communication southern blacks have with the larger black community, and Daddy Love faithfully picks it up at his barbershop, reading it cover to cover. Then one day, the town’s sheriff confiscates the shop’s copies of The Crisis, and warns the men there that anyone belonging to the NAACP is asking for trouble from the Ku Klux Klan. A wire comes announcing that Uncle Pace is coming home. But when he does, he’s been badly injured. As the sheriff tells it, he got drunk and fell asleep on the railroad tracks, where he was hit by a train. Everyone knows that Pace did not drink at all. He dies, and Daddy, realizing that this suspicious death has probably been the work of the Klan, decides to protect his family by moving them to Chicago. Here he hopes to set up a new undertaking business. Life in the city is far different for the Love girls from what they thought it would be. They must adapt to crowded apartment living, new neighbors, a tough new school, and making new friends, none of which is easy. But these discomforts are nothing to compare with the race riot that occurs that summer. The Loves get through it unscathed, but with the realization that they did not leave the problems of racism behind when they left Tennessee. It is this knowledge that gives Nellie and the rest of the Loves the impetus to become actively involved in the fight against prejudice and to begin the long march to full equality as Americans. It’s an inspiring story, and one that brings to life the great black migration of that era from the south to the cities of the north. This part of American history is too often glossed over in textbooks, but must be understood in the context of modern race relations. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-590-56733-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2000


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