Start reading Colored People on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Colored People [Kindle Edition]

Henry Louis Gates Jr
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $11.12
You Save: $3.88 (26%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $11.12  
Library Binding $22.95  
Paperback $11.58  
Audio, Cassette, Audiobook, Unabridged --  
Unknown Binding --  
Hero Quick Promo
Today Only: Up to 80% Off Popular Summer Reads on Kindle
Today only, get books by Jhumpa Lahiri, Brad Meltzer, Amy Tan, Jane Green, and more at up to 80% off. Learn more

Book Description

From an American Book Award-winning author comes a pungent and poignant masterpiece of recollection that ushers readers into a now-vanished "colored" world and extends and deepens our sense of African-American history, even as it entrances us with its bravura storytelling.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a warm, gracefully written, moving autobiographical reminiscence, Gates, chairman of Harvard's Afro-American Studies department, recalls growing up in the 1950s and '60s in Piedmont, W.Va., an immigrant working-class town where the only work available to blacks at the local paper mill was loading trucks. Devastated at age 12 by the onset of his mother's depressive disorder, Gates joined a Baptist church and desperately pursued a "restrictive fundamentalism." While avidly embracing "black power" in the mid-1960s, he yearned for approval from his father, who was "hard on colored people." This engrossing narrative of Gates's intellectual, political, sexual and emotional awakening is studded with memorable incidents such as his discovery that his mother, years before he was born in 1950, led a pioneering civil rights march. 40,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB alternates.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The man touted as America's most celebrated black scholar reminisces to his daughters about his boyhood in the polluted, dying Allegheny Mountains' papermill town of Piedmont, West Virginia. Laying out the social and emotional topography of a world shifting from segregation to integration and from colored to Negro to black, Gates evokes a bygone time and place as he moves from his birth in 1949 to 1969, when he goes off to Yale University after a year at West Virginia's Potomac State College. His pensive and sometimes wistful narrative brims with the mysteries and pangs and lifelong aches of growing up, from his encounters with sexuality, to the discovery of intellectual exhilaration as he is marked to excel in school, to his suffering a crippling injury to one of his legs and struggling frightfully for his father's respect. There is much to recommend this book as a story of boyhood, family, segregation, the pre-Civil Rights era, and the era when Civil Rights filtered down from television to local reality. Highly recommended.
--Thomas J. Davis, SUNY at Buffalo
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 468 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 6, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055PI72S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,581 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gone Community July 9, 2000
Personally, I had a heckuva time keeping track of all the various Gates and Coleman relatives, so I gave up after the first forty pages or so and just appreciated this memoir for what it is -- the story of a community that no longer exists but will be alive for generations through Gates' evocation of it for his children and, vicariously, the readers of this book. As a white age contemporary of Gates, I was impressed by the evenhandedness with which he tells the story of the often grudging desegregation of the late 50s and 60s in West Virginia, and surprised by the extent of black/white interaction -- sometimes positive for Gates -- in this small town, even in the days of segregation. That is obviously a function of small town life, but it struck me as more than in many parts of US life today, leading to the question I wondered about throughout this book -- whether 46 years after Brown vs. Board of Education we are more, not less, isolated by color in our social interactions in the United States. If so, that's a tragedy for all of us.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm and funny and haunting and serious. May 25, 1999
By A Customer
So removed from my own experience but a story told with such grace, it will always be one of my favorite books. I read it when it was published some time ago and have not forgotten the real sense of place and people. As a white female wasp from New England, I'm not sure I understand why it affected me so. Lost communities that we gave up in the name of something else. On the one hand, it made me think there will always be a separateness and, on the other hand, that we all want the kind of community and gentle exchange that seemed at the heart of the people in this book. The use of the language is admirable - the writing - but it was what I took away about my own very different life that made the book memorable. It's a scholarly work in its way but simple, clear and classic.
Was this review helpful to you?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent memoir - a necessary read! November 7, 2005
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is an extraordinary scholar, particularly on African-American issues. He was born and raised in Piedmont, West Virginia during the time of early racial desegregation and, as a black man, was directly influenced by this dramatically historical period. Gates graduated summa cum laude from Yale University with a degree in history, then received a Ph.D. in English from Cambridge.

He has written for The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Time, The New Republic, and other prominent magazines. In addition to Colored People: A Memoir, Gates has authored and co-authored several books including Figures in Black: Works, Signs, and the "Racial" Self (1987), The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (1988), and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (1997).

The preface to Colored People is a letter from Gates to his daughters, Maggie and Liza and, though the book is dedicated to his father Henry Louis Gates, Sr. and in memory of his mother Pauline Augusta Coleman Gates, the entire autobiography is written in conversational tone, as if Gates were recounting his stories not only to his daughters, but to their entire generation.

Gates' collection of memories describes the era, long since past (both for good and for bad) when blacks and whites were segregated, and the subsequent integration of these colors, and what it was like to live in that world, and be a part of it's evolution. The title Colored People is beautifully appropriate, not only for the shades of black America it represents, but for each and every one of us; black, white, red, yellow: none of us are see-through.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. invites us to live with him in Piedmont, West Virginia, and experience life-black life-through his eyes.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Being Henry Louis Gates Jr. June 9, 2000
By A Customer
This is a great book. No doubt about it. For those who only know Skip Gates from his combatative role in the PBS "Wonders of Africa" series, this book will be a revelation. As a memoir of a young man growing up Black in the segregated south, there are some wonderful epiphanies for people who did not have that experience. As a peice of literary writing, it's a wonderful example of craft and spirit and talent.
I don't always agree with the way in which Prof. Gates places himself in the politics of academia or the pronouncements he sometimes makes about being of color in these United States, but he sure tells a good story. Through sharing his early years, some of the complexities of the man are made understandable. I leave it to others to decide exactly what that means.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, yet thougt provoking! April 16, 1999
This memoir had me laughing throughout, but it was also though provoking. The descriptions were so vivid, you believed you are right there in that little town witnessing Mr. Gates live and the lives of his family. I gave the book to my mother and she loved it also. Coming from a small town in Arkansas, there were alot of similarites. This book was a departure from his normal intellectual writings but no less educational.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I admit, I only bought this book to make a political statement in support of Professor Gates after the incident with Cambridge Police last summer (and I bought it half price at a used book store because I didn't need to make that much of a statement). I hoped for a well-told memoir with insight into the life of someone who grew up in a much different way than I did, and Professor Gates really delivered. This book focuses on the author's childhood, from the early days absorbing the details of his extended family and tight African American community within a small town in West Virginia. The book also follows his journey through recently desegregated schools, restaurants, hotels, and department stores, with a few inter-racial romantic relationships along the way to keep everything interesting, but I found the early observations much more compelling. Essentially, this is a rich and warm recollection of a childhood spent in a quirky but loving community, and although the occasionally frank sexuality will likely make some readers uncomfortable, I recommend it. Even for readers who aren't interested in making political statements.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great memoir
Great book, loved it.. interesting and compelling…
Published 2 months ago by Michelle "Ming"
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book made me laugh out loud!
Published 5 months ago by judy coryell
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book. In good condition It is all and ...
A great book . In good condition It is all and more than I expected .
Thanks much
Jack Walker
Published 6 months ago by Jack Walker
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
It was a gift.
Published 6 months ago by Kay
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry Louis Gates Is A Leader In The Study of Racial History
If you are not familiar with Henry Gates you should read this book and his other works. Gates grew up poor in WV and has lived through the turbulent times of the 60's and the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by H.M. Joyce
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece with language that is sublime, grand and sailing almost...
Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a Professor of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University and Director of the W. E. B. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mtutuzeli Nyoka
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful memoir growing up during segregation times.
Professor Gates story of his youth in West Virginia during the Jim Crow years was enlightening. Lots of sorrow, lots of humor.
Published 12 months ago by BillStory
3.0 out of 5 stars College Book
I bought this book for a college class. It was in great shape when I received it. However, I have not read the book yet.
Published 15 months ago by Kara
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Memoir w/ Potent Images
Certain memories stand out. Certain memories shape the kind of character you have today. Certain memories reveal the human experience. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Brenda H. Feis
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of "Colored People" by Henry Louis Gates. Rated 5 stars.
I love this book! Henry Louis Gates tells the story of his childhood and family in West Virginia. It is very humorous, and his story resonates with many young southern boys.
Published 18 months ago by Betty B. Jones
Search Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category