My Face Is Black Is True
Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations
By Mary Frances Berry
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307277053, 336pp.)
Publication Date: October 10, 2006
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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“My face is black is true but its not my fault but I love my name and my honest dealing with my fellow man.” –Callie House (1899)In this groundbreaking book, acclaimed historian Dr. Mary Frances Berry resurrects the remarkable story of ex-slave Callie House (1861-1928) who, seventy years before the civil-rights movement, headed a demand for ex-slave reparations. A widowed Nashville washerwoman and mother of five, House went on to fight for African American pensions based on those offered to Union soldiers, brilliantly targeting $68 million in taxes on seized rebel cotton and demanding it as repayment for centuries of unpaid labor. Here is the fascinating story of a forgotten civil rights crusader: a woman who emerges as a courageous pioneering activist, a forerunner of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mary Frances Berry was born in Nashville, Tennessee. She received a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Howard University, a doctorate in history from the University of Michigan, and a juris doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
Dr. Berry has received many awards for her public service and scholarly activities, among them the NAACP’s Roy Wilkins Award and Image Award, the Rosa Parks Award of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Ebony Magazine Black Achievement Award.
In addition to having been the chairperson of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission for eleven years, Dr. Berry is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches history of American law. She lives in Washington, D.C.
“Fascinating. . . . Berry has brought this leader from obscurity and given her cause the recognition it deserves. No one can fully understand the history of the reparations movement without reading this book.”–The Washington Post Book World
“A treat for history lovers. . . .[Berry] paints a vivid picture of the reparations struggle in an era when 2 millions ex-slaves were still alive. . . . Eye-opening, well-crafted.”
–The Plain Dealer
“Remarkable. . . . Berry has done a brilliant job of documenting the life of Callie House. . . . This is an incredible story and one that truly deserves to be more than mere footnote in our history texts. . . . Authentic and essential.” –Tucson Citizen