The Garretts of Columbia
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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Geschichte
A multigenerational story of hope and resilience, The Garretts of Columbia is an American history of Black struggle, sacrifice, and achievement.
At the heart of David Nicholson's beautifully written and carefully researched book, The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration, are his great-grandparents, Casper George Garrett and his wife, Anna Maria. Papa, as Garrett was known to his family, was a professor at Allen University, a lawyer, and an editor of three newspapers. Dubbed Black South Carolina's "most respected disliked man," he was always ready to attack those he believed disloyal to his race. When his quixotic idealism and acerbic editorials resulted in his dismissal from Allen, his wife, who was called Mama, came into her own as the family bread winner. She was appointed supervisor of rural colored schools, trained teachers, and oversaw the construction of schoolhouses. At 51, this remarkable woman learned to drive, taking to the back roads outside Columbia to supervise classrooms, conduct literacy drives, and instruct rural farm women in the basics of home economics.
Though Papa and Mama came of age in the bleak Jim Crow years after Reconstruction, they believed in the possibility of America. Resolutely supporting their country during the First World War, they sent three of their sons to serve. One son wrote a musical with Langston Hughes during the Harlem Renaissance. Another son became a dentist. A daughter earned a doctorate in French. And the family persevered. But, for all that Papa and Mama did to make Columbia a nurturing place, their sons and daughters joined the Great Migration, scattering north in search of the freedom the South denied them.
The Garretts embraced the hope of America and experienced the melancholy of a family separated by the search for opportunity and belonging. On the basis of decades of research and thousands of family letters—which include Mama's tart-tongued observations of friends and neighbors—The Garretts of Columbia is family history as American history, rich with pivotal events viewed through the lens of the Garretts's lives.
african american genealogy roots history newspaper editor biography harlem renaissance world war I II