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The Black History of the White House

The Black History of the White House

Book - 2011
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Official histories of the United States have ignored the fact that 25 percent of all U.S. presidents were slaveholders, and that black people were held in bondage in the White House itself. And while the nation was born under the banner of "freedom and justice for all," many colonists risked rebelling against England in order to protect their lucrative slave business from the growing threat of British abolitionism. These historical facts, commonly excluded from schoolbooks and popular versions of American history, have profoundly shaped the course of race relations in the United States. In this work, the author presents a comprehensive history of the White House from an African American perspective, illuminating the central role it has played in advancing, thwarting, or simply ignoring efforts to achieve equal rights for all. Here are the stories of those who were forced to work on the construction of the mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the determined leaders who pressured U.S. presidents to outlaw slavery. They include White House slaves, and servants who went on to write books, Secret Service agents harassed by racist peers, Washington insiders who rose to the highest levels of power, the black artists and intellectuals invited to the White House, community leaders who waged presidential campaigns, and many others. Juxtaposing significant events in White House history with the ongoing struggle for civil rights, the book makes plain that the White House has always been a prism through which to view the social struggles and progress of black Americans.
Publisher: San Francisco : City Lights Books, c2011
ISBN: 9780872865327
Call Number: 975.3 L975b
Characteristics: 575 p. : ill. ; 21 cm


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Aug 03, 2018

This accessible and painstakingly-researched book would make perfect 'remedial reading' for every American who wants to know the real history of their nation. For example, the Somerset decision - not taught in most schools - that was a major factor in precipitating the Revolutionary War... or the real origin of our National Guard. Want to know the real story? Read this book. The hardest part, for me, was reading the final chapter, written during President Obama's first term of office. The irony of so much of that chapter, given what's happened since, brought me to tears more than once.

Mar 09, 2017

"In this country America means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate."-Toni Morrison
A thoroughly research and often compelling story of the presidents' relationships to the black community and the presence of African-Americans in the White House since it was built (partly by slaves). It paints both individual portraits and larger ones of the racial climate throughout various administrations. Highly recommended.

nutty7688 Jun 09, 2012

Loved this book on African Americans on the road to the White House, which I think should have been the title. Very well written.

jlazcan Jan 11, 2012

This was a good book that depicts the hypocrisy of our country. It follows African Americans and the contribution they have made to our country and specifically the White House. The book includes the politics of slavery and Jim Crow.

Jun 14, 2011

This book covers much of the material in “Family of Freedom, the Presidents and African Americans in the White House” by Kenneth T. Walsh. Of the two, I guess I prefer the latter. But in this book Lusane gives a wide history of African Americans both in and out of the White House including slaves who helped build the White House, later African Americans employed as servants, then African American leaders who met with various presidents and finally reaching President Obama himself. I think sometimes he was overly detailed (devoting numerous pages to black musicians who played at the White House, for example) but overall this is history every American should know.


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