Thursday, July 17, 2008
Book Commentary: Life on the Color Line
First book that I finished this summer is a wonderful autobiography of Gregory “Billy” Williams who happens to be the President of The City College of New York where I currently attend. He spent the first 10 years of his life in Virginia on the road that divided the white neighborhoods from the black, US 1. His father owned a bar/restaurant that served both communities; it was not typically tolerated for a white business to serve blacks but it was as it was war-time and many of the patrons were military. His father worked hard and started another few business, then it all fell apart as alcohol took its toll on his father.
His parents broke up after his mother left to not take any more beatings; she took the youngest two kids with her. The eldest boys, “Billy” (the author) and “Mike” his brother returned to their father’s hometown of Muncie, Indiana where he and his brother discovered that they were black.
He struggles for acceptance, he fights for and against his drinking dad, he tries to help his brother Mike find his own way and not take to the same path as his father. Through it all he pursues his dream of becoming a lawyer.
Well written, it’s a very enjoyable read that shares the mood and madness of life under segregation.