The Black Experience in the 20th Century: An Autobiography and Meditation
The Black Experience in the 20th Century
A brave and powerful memoir by a well-known Third World writer on the problem of the color line in the last century.
The Black Experience in the 20th Century is both a personal memoir and a powerful meditation on what W. E. B. Dubois defined at the beginning of the century as "the problem of the color line; of the relations between the lighter and darker races of man...." Using Dubois as a point of departure, Abrahams writes passionately about the inherent "wrongness" of racial hatred and contemplates such timeless questions as: "Why was color the most crucial issue of our century?" and "When will we get over the deep psychic and emotional damage done by the racial experience?" One of the major themes of the memoir--the quest for an integrated identity--depicts the challenge that faces people of color in both First- and Third-World countries.
The Black Experience in the 20th Century is also the personal odyssey of Peter Abrahams, a young South African who worked as a seaman, leaving his homeland for wartime Britain and postwar France in order to become a writer. He recalls his personal relationships with the black literati of the day and his involvement in the pan-Africanist movement of the 1950s, giving intriguing glimpses of other prominent writers like George Padmore, W. E. B. Dubois, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Richard Wright, and Langston Hughes. Abrahams's journey takes him to the Caribbean island of Jamaica, where he, his wife, Daphne, and their three children find sanctuary from racial divisiveness at "Coyaba." It is in his lifelong companionship with Daphne and their multiracial union that Abrahams perceives symbolic "one bloodedness," mirroring his own admirable sensibilities.
Peter Abrahams, South African novelist and essayist, was born in Vrededorp, Johannesburg in 1919. Among his best-known works are Mine Boy, The Path to Thunder, Tell Freedom, A Wreath for Udomo, and The View from Coyaba. He has been credited for the example he set as one of the first black African writers of the 1950s and '60s, and for the encouragement he offered to fellow writers Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiong'o, among others. Since 1951 Abrahams has lived and worked in Jamaica.
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