Uncle George and Me: Two Southern Families Confront a Shared Legacy of Slavery

Bill Sizemore. Brandylane, $18.95 trade paper (158p) ISBN 978-1-947860-10-0
A man comes to terms with his family’s slave-owning past in this probing account. Journalist Sizemore was horrified to learn from a quick check of the 1860 United States census that his great-great-great grandfather, Daniel Sizemore of Mecklenburg County, Va., had owned 16 slaves, and he became obsessed with learning all he could about them and their descendants. Convinced that “the story of race is the story of America,” he pored over government documents to learn about the men and women who took the Sizemore name after Emancipation, sought them out, and had many conversations with 91-year-old “Uncle George” Sizemore, whose father was born a slave just before the Civil War. By tracing the experiences of these black Sizemores over a century and a half, through slavery, freedom, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, and the civil rights movement, and contrasting their lives with those of several generations of his own family, Sizemore presents “the story of American apartheid in microcosm.” While he has clearly relished getting to know several generations of African-American Sizemores, his main aim is to emphasize the immense debt that he sees white Americans as owing African-Americans, who helped build the nation but have received little or no reward for their labors. This short but powerful book represents the attempts of one ordinary American to bridge historic and contemporary racial divides, and it deserves a wide readership; it is a labor of love in the truest sense. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/23/2018
Release date: 09/05/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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