cover image Balm in Gilead: Journey of a Healer

Balm in Gilead: Journey of a Healer

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Sara Lawrence Lightfoot. Random House (NY), $13.95 (321pp) ISBN 978-0-201-09312-4

In telling the story of her mother, Margaret Lawrence, one of the first black psychoanalysts, Lightfoot, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, charts a generational history within the parameters of the racial history of the United States. Brought up in the early years of this century in strictly segregated Mississippi, Lawrence was sent to Harlem to complete high school. There, and later at Cornell, where she was the only black undergraduate, and at Columbia University Medical School, she experienced a more subtle but equally noxious racism. Until she retired from Harlem Hospital at age 70, Lawrence spent most of her working life in or near New York City, assisting Benjamin Spock and others in pioneering therapeutic services for children. Beginning with her grandmother, a strong line of women supported her. As related here to her daughter, Lawrence's recollections of these women and their place in the black culture of their day, which was also governed by color of skin and gender, make this a candid illumination devoid of rancor. (Oct.)