Catalogue


Walter White : the dilemma of Black identity in America /
Thomas Dyja.
imprint
Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, c2008.
description
ix, 212 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
ISBN
156663766X (cloth : alk. paper), 9781566637664 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, c2008.
isbn
156663766X (cloth : alk. paper)
9781566637664 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
6707782
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 193-198) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2008-09-08:
Once known as "Mr. NAACP," Walter White and his contributions to African-American history have been lost in the margins of memory. Dyja (The Moon in Our Hands) offers a straightforward biography of the light-skinned, blue-eyed, blond-haired black man who served as executive secretary of the NAACP for the "complex and pivotal decades" from 1931 to 1955. White's daring made him an unparalleled investigator into the horrendous violence and systematic peonage that characterized the decades before WWII. His accomplishments were history making: desegregation of the armed forces owes a debt to his investigations into the treatment of black soldiers in Europe and the Pacific; the Legal Defense Fund owes much to White's focus on litigation. Usefully but often controversially, this "man of few theories and many tactics, remained squarely, sanely and consistently down the middle for almost four decades" and kept the NAACP along that same path. As in White's life, the NAACP holds the center, but Dyja attends to White's place as a writer of the Harlem Renaissance and to his more intimate life, including his "last act"--White's marriage to a white woman that, according to the author, "cost him his place in history." (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2009-10-01:
By all external appearances, Walter White was, well, white. He had blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin, and "Caucasian" features. Yet White self-identified as an African American. More to the point, he led the largest, most important civil rights organization in US history, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), for more than a quarter of a century, during perhaps the most significant years of that organization's storied history. In this brief biography, Dyja, an independent writer, uses White's life as a springboard to discussions of the fraught nature of racial identity in the US. Though Dyja does not take a hagiographic approach to his subject, he clearly admires White and wants to place the NAACP's stalwart leader within the context of the times in which he rose to prominence. This crisply written book, part of the publisher's Library of African-American Biography, represents a welcome addition to undergraduate and graduate collections. It will appeal to general readers, and is a useful contribution to the literature on civil rights, racial identity, and modern US history. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. D. C. Catsam University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Reviews
Review Quotes
Thomas Dyja's gripping biography of Walter White has restored an essential American life. With impeccable research, acute sensitivity and literary grace, Dyja has restored one of the most important links in the long chain of events and causes that brought Americans, at long last, into the the bright sunshine of civil and human rights.
Walter White, the longtime executive secretary of the NAACP, is one of the most complex and yet fascinating characters of the black freedom struggle. While many historians have dismissed White as an opportunistic self-promoter, Thomas Dyja's elegantly written biography provides the reader with an empathetic and judicious portrait of a man who was passionately devoted to the cause of racial advancement but as an individual aspired to move beyond the limitations of race.
In prose that moves effortlessly across the page, Thomas Dyja captures the energy and accomplishments of Walter White, one of the most important and effective African American leaders of the last century.
Offers a story about how certain characteristics, actions, and philosophies define a person's 'blackness' or 'whiteness.'
Thomas Dyja has written a succinct, evenhanded, and timely analysis of the life and legacy of the blond, blue-eyed public face of the NAACP between 1931 and 1955. . . . Well researched and well written, Dyja's book makes a major contribution to civil rights scholarship, is accessible to a general audience, and should be mandatory reading for anyone born after 1954.
Thomas Dyja "s gripping biography of Walter White has restored an essential American life. With impeccable research, acute sensitivity and literary grace, Dyja has restored one of the most important links in the long chain of events and causes that brought Americans, at long last, into the the bright sunshine of civil and human rights.
A useful contribution to the literature on civil rights, racial identity, and modern U.S. history.
Clearly organized and crisply written. . . . Dyja's study is designed to give Walter White's reputation a renewed life, so that a troubled man and his troubled career can get the attention and the respect they deserve.
Compact, insightful . . . [an] able tribute to a boundary-smashing activist.
Dyja brings new light to an eclipsed but hugely important figure in the civil rights struggle.
Dyja's crisply-written biography is a fascinating, concise history of arguably the most effective civil rights leader of his time. Dyjas's timely and nimble effort identifies the gap between one person's proximity to power and a community's failure to ever actualize it ”a dilemma that continues to plague civil rights leaders and by extension black America today. As the inaugural text for this new series, Walter White is an auspicious beginning for The Library of African American Biography, which will crucially introduce and familiarize future generations of readers to the most important people of the African American experience.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, September 2008
Booklist, October 2008
Wall Street Journal, October 2008
Choice, October 2009
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
The day Walter White was buried in 1955 the New York Times called him "the nearest approach to a national leader of American Negroes since Booker T. Washington." For more than two decades, White, as secretary of the NAACP, was perhaps the nation's most visible and most powerful African-American leader. He won passage of a federal anti-lynching law, hosted one of the premier salons of the Harlem Renaissance, created the legal strategy that led to Brown v. Board of Education, and initiated the campaign demanding that Hollywood give better roles to black actors. Driven by ambitions for himself and his people, he offered his entire life to the advancement of civil rights in America.
Table of Contents
A World of His Own
The Life Insurance Temperament
Undercover Against Lynching
At the Center of the Harlem Renaissance
Conflict, Control, and the Making of Mr. NAACP
Fighting on All Fronts
"I am white and I am black"
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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