Book signing scheduled for memoir of black middle class
Book signing scheduled for memoir of black middle classFebruary 28, 2007SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
Despite Reconstruction, Jim Crow and pervasive discrimination, a substantial number of African Americans entered the middle class before World War I. This was a life — little known to outsiders — of college graduations, formal weddings and singing around the piano in the parlor. Peggy Wood was born into such a world in 1912, the year Wilson defeated Taft. Her memoir, “Something Must Be Done: One Black Woman’s Story” (Syracuse University Press, 2006), is a lifting of the veil that kept much of this world from view. For this reason, it belongs on the shelf alongside Sarah and Elizabeth Delaney’s 1993 classic “Having Our Say.”
A book signing, sponsored by the Syracuse/Onondaga County NAACP and SU Press, will be held Saturday, March 10, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Coomons in E.S. Bird Library. Those planning to attend should R.SV.P. by March 7 to the NAACP at (315) 422-6933.
With a sharp memory and a warm voice, Wood reflects on her journey from Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute to Atlanta, at a time when Atlanta was a mecca for black America. From the South, the story moves to Lima, Ohio, and Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where she and her husband led black community centers. In 1950, the scene shifts to Syracuse, where Wood was active as a social worker and campaigner for civil rights for more than three decades.
The usual narrative of the Civil Rights Movement focuses on demonstrations in the street. In “Something Must Be Done,” the struggle is narrated from the compelling perspective of a black female insider. Wood’s testimony fills a void in the public record, enriches the history of a turbulent era, and makes for a fascinating read.
Parker Brown, to whom this memoir was dictated, is a much-published tax attorney and oral historian.