The Black Calhouns by Gail Lumet Buckley
Tuesday, September 27
In a graceful memoir that is also a powerful work of history, Gail Lumet Buckley tells the story of generations of her African American family after the Civil War. She follows two branches—one that stayed in the South, and another that settled in Brooklyn. On both sides her family were examples of what W.E.B. Du Bois called “the Talented Tenth,” and their lives intersected with many of the leading figures of the day, like Frederick Douglass, Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and Paul Robeson.
The author’s mother, singer and actress Lena Horne, is the most famous member of the family. Other memorable characters include her great-great-grandfather, Moses Calhoun, a former slave who became a successful businessman in Atlanta; and her great-grandparents, Cora and Edwin Horne, she a stern Brooklyn do-gooder and he a man about town with connections to Tammany Hall.
The story of The Black Calhouns is, in many ways, a success story, but Buckley deftly juxtaposes it with the reality of the society they lived in. As Darryl Pinckney writes, “From Reconstruction to Jim Crow in the South, to World War II and the beginnings of mass political activism for equality—Buckley relates black survival and progress through the experiences of her ambitious, complicated family.”
Photo credit: Nancy Crampton
No RSVP required. This event is free and open to the public. Seating is assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis.