Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
“A triumph of storytelling as well as a triumph of spirit.”—Alex Kotlowitz, award-winning author of There Are No Children Here
As a child in 1950s segregated Virginia, Gregory Howard Williams grew up believing he was white. But when the family business failed and his parents’ marriage fell apart, Williams discovered that his dark-skinned father, who had been passing as Italian-American, was half black. The family split up, and Greg, his younger brother, and their father moved to Muncie, Indiana, where the young boys learned the truth about their heritage. Overnight, Greg Williams became black.
In this extraordinary and powerful memoir, Williams recounts his remarkable journey along the color line and illuminates the contrasts between the black and white worlds: one of privilege, opportunity and comfort, the other of deprivation, repression, and struggle. He tells of the hostility and prejudice he encountered all too often, from both blacks and whites, and the surprising moments of encouragement and acceptance he found from each.
Life on the Color Line is a uniquely important book. It is a wonderfully inspiring testament of purpose, perseverance, and human triumph.
“Heartbreaking and uplifting… a searing book about race and prejudice in America… brims with insights that only someone who has lived on both sides of the racial divide could gain.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer