My People: Five Decades of Writing About Black Lives

Harper: HarperCollins. Oct. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9780063135390. $27.99. SOC SCI
A nonchronological collection of reporting and essays, from the late 1960s through the present, by Emmy-winning broadcast journalist Hunter-Gault (New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa’s Renaissance), who in 1961 was one of two Black students to desegregate the University of Georgia; she’s been telling stories and taking part in civil rights activism ever since. Her writing vividly describes the twinning of her own embodied and intellectual lives (“Along with my clothes, I packed my racial consciousness,” she writes) and documents watershed moments while retaining a clear-eyed perspective of racial narratives in the United States. In some of the texts, it’s painful to see unbridled optimism countered by enduring racist efforts to whitewash history, but Hunter-Gault has organized the book in a way that balances disenchantment with hope. This collection compounds Hunter-Gault’s impact by delivering a version of American history that is complex in its backward and forward glimpses and that reinforces the enduring need for telling old stories, so readers can relearn what they should have gotten right decades ago.
VERDICT Hunter-Gault’s book makes it easy to revisit difficult historical moments and envision better choices, better outcomes, and better futures.
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