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When We Were Colored: A Mother's Story Paperback – May 15, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–On the cusp of the civil rights era, in 1964, Rutland's memoir was published in a limited edition as The Trouble with Being Mama. This reissue has a new introduction. Mama, as Rutland is known, reflects on her daily deeds, accomplishments, and misgivings about raising her four children while residing in an integrated California suburb and sending them to integrated public schools. This African-American, middle-class family strove to maintain social, economic, and educational equality within a multicultural environment. Mostly, they succeeded. There are no fire hoses or church bombings in this down-home, kitchen-table memoir. The color line manifested itself in more subtle ways: in difficulty purchasing real estate, or when the children maintained the required grades but were not placed in exceptional classes. Rutland's self-effacing manner, and the strictly adhered to and enforced gender roles, may seem as striking to today's more self-actualized and empowered young adults as will the clarity with which the author shows the depth of racism without criminal incident.–Jodi Mitchell, Durham County Library, NC
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Review

“Recaptures the wisdom, resiliency, and love of a family overcoming a world once oppressively divided between black and white.”  —David Levering Lewis, two-time winner, Pulitzer Prize for Biography, and author, W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography



“Eva Rutland has done us all a grand favor—[to] tell the powerful and poignant story of the courage and love of a black mother in a society that devalues black children.”  —Cornel West, professor of religion, Princeton University, and author, Race Matters



“It is inspiring and instructive for any mother interested in raising children who are healthy and whole.”  —Shelley Fisher Fishkin, director of American studies, Stanford University

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: IWP Book Publishers; Reissue edition (May 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934178004
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934178003
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on September 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Eva Rutland takes us back to a time of penny candy, 5and 10 -cent stores, and racism. In times when the world seemed much gentler, some Americans could not simply sit down to eat at restaurants unless it was marked Colored, and could not go to the school of their choice. Ms Rutland struggled to rear her children without the emotional scars that sometimes came with dealing with racism.

Eva had an open door policy. All were welcome at her door; no one was discriminated against. Eva was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia in the house that her grandfather, a freed slave, built himself. That community had not segregated itself. Although Atlanta was segregated, where Eva lived, everyone knew each other and Eva knew how to find common ground with her neighbors no matter what race they were.

Bill Rutland, Eva's husband, was a trailblazer. He joined the Air Force at the time that it was first desegregated. Not wanting to be separated from his family, he packed them up and moved them to California. Bill met discrimination when he went out in advance to find a home for his family. Some neighborhoods were integrated but Bill had a hard time finding them or a realtor that would help him. Whenever Bill found a house that he wanted, he would have trouble procuring a loan to purchase it. He found a run-down house in a neighborhood that Whites had began to desert because of integration. When the family wanted to move to better surroundings they had to get one of Bill's co-workers to buy it for them, much to the outrage of the seller.

Eva combated racism by becoming a den mother, joining the PTA and every other group that she could find; so that she could help her kids understand that not everyone was a racist.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Fabel on April 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
Book review of "When We Were Colored: A mother's Story" by Eva Rutland, 2007, IWP Book Publishers, ISBN 13: 978-1-934178-00-3, 152 pp.

Book reviewer: Joe Fabel, American Authors Association Review Board

Eva Rutland is a most unique individual who has shared with the reader the wisdom of her life as an individual, a wife and a mother. She is unique because she values the virtues which lie within. Exterior behavior norms are not what she is about for her family. Yes, she teaches her children how to live with others; yet she goes beyond to emphasize the true value of living a life of commitment to excellence. She instills within her children, whenever they will sit still and pay attention, the virtues of living and choosing to perfect themselves as full human beings.

There is reference to her upbringing in the South, a time of sheltering within the black community as defined by white segregation mores. She states that it was a time of comfort in the sense that she and her folks understood the boundaries established, knowing what the segregating Southern whites demanded. There was never a question of what one could or couldn't do.

The quiet segregation experienced among people in the West, the quiet yet definite

"lines marked in the sands" is a daily occurrence. Eva Rutland emphasizes that each of her family must achieve academically, socially and personally according to their abilities and gifts. There must be no question of squandering what the good Lord has allotted each of us.

This is a story by an insightful and sharing mother. The book should be on all reading lists of all levels of the schools, available for the parents of all the students. It contains

messages by which each individual must live his or her life, be you a child, a parent,

a neighbor or simply a citizen. Eva's message is a golden rule to live by.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Howard Weaver on March 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
Eva Rutland tells the kinds of stories that form the foundation of civilization -- emotionally rich, immensely satisfying tales of family, friendship and basic humanity.

Her narrative gift lets us share a perspective we'd never know on our own -- yet also discover how universal her experience has been. If it's true that the most powerful words in the world are "Tell me a story," then Eva Rutland is one of the most powerful people around.

This is profound storytelling wearing a deceptively simple wrap: clean, transparent prose that introduces readers to a world they will very much enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Brookes on April 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
"Eva Rutland has done all of us a grand favor - [to] tell the powerful and poignant story of the courage and love of a black mother in a society that devalues black children."

-- Cornel West, author, "Race Matters," Professor of Religion, Princeton University

"Eva Rutland's chronicle of child rearing during the transition from segregation to civil rights is warm, poignant, and funny. It is also a powerful object lesson in how and why women - as mommas and grandmothers -have long anchored the soul of Black America."

---Willie L. Brown, Jr., former Mayor of San Francisco and former Speaker of the California State Assembly

"Rutland brings the reader back to a time and place in this country when there weren't protected civil right, when she couldn't swin in the local pools, when a visit from a neighboring white girl who wanted to use their phone prompted a dangerous visit from the police..."

---Martha Mendoza, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Associated Press

"'When We Were Colored' has an amusing 'Moma Knows Best' sensibility. The book also gives the reader a serious look at the West's black middle class - usually invisible in American storytelling."

---Janet Clayton, assistant Managing Editor, Los Angeles Times

"Eva Rutland's evocation of race, place, and time has near perfect poignancy and verisimilitude. With a wonderful blend of intemacy and sociology, 'When We Were Colored' recaptures the wisdom, resiliency, and love of a family overcoming a world once oppressively divided into black and white."

---David Levering Lewis, Professor of History, New York University, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography
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