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“A history cum memoir by Lena Horne’s daughter tells the story of her forebears . . . eloquently conveys . . . how politics and prejudice can shape a family.” —The New Yorker
In The Black Calhouns, Gail Lumet Buckley—daughter of actress Lena Horne—delves deep into her family history, detailing the experiences of an extraordinary African American family from Civil War to Civil Rights.
Beginning with her great-great grandfather Moses Calhoun, a house slave who used the rare advantage of his education to become a successful businessman in post-war Atlanta, Buckley follows her family’s two branches: one that stayed in the South, and the other that settled in Brooklyn. Through the lens of her relatives’ momentous lives, Buckley examines major events throughout American history. From Atlanta during Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow, to New York City during the Harlem Renaissance, and then from World War II to the Civil Rights Movement, this ambitious, brilliant family witnessed and participated in the most crucial events of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Combining personal and national history, The Black Calhouns is a unique and vibrant portrait of six generations during dynamic times of struggle and triumph.
“The challenge of reviewing extraordinary books is that they leave one grasping for words . . . The book’s ultimate magic derives from the way the history of black America can be viewed through their story.” —The Boston Globe