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Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City Paperback – February 7, 2012
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As Peterson explains, the elite black families of New York spoke of their beloved city as "Gotham" and they sought to ensure transmission of their communal memories, with commemorations, newspapers, and marches reinscribing historical events from their own perspective. But almost nothing was transmitted as memory within her own family, leaving her to rediscover it only in the archives. Why was this past forgotten? Was the 19th-century elite embarrassing to later generations because it embraced assimilation as a goal? Peterson fills us in on her neglected family history - and our own - with a passionate tour of the archives and a respectful view of the complexity of 19th-century elite African-American lives.
Among the surprising data unearthed by the author in the course of her study was that she had descended from New York City's black upper class, a cosmopolitan community comprised not only of doctors, businessmen and other professionals but of writers, artists and musicians, too. This information flies in the face of the conventional wisdom which would suggest that the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s represented the first flowering of black culture in the city.
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The book arrived in perfect condition with the exception of a missing jacket, which the seller did not mention. But that's okay because the 'goodness' was definitely within. This is a must read!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Disjointed and poorly written. A bit too personal and not academic as intended.Published 8 months ago by Summer Reader
This is a powerful and well documented account of several NYC African Americans who were free, educated businessmen and professionals during the pre-emancipation period. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Elle K. Mack
I enjoyed reading this book. It gave a great history of African Americans in NYC. Hearing the female voice in history is really special for me. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Amazon Customer