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The Last Negroes at Harvard: The Class of 1963 and the 18 Young Men Who Changed Harvard Forever

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  35 ratings  ·  12 reviews
The untold story of the Harvard class of 63, whose Black students fought to create their own identities on the cusp between integration and affirmative action.In the fall of 1959, Harvard recruited an unprecedented eighteen Negro boys as an early form of affirmative action. Four years later they would graduate as African Americans. Some fifty years later, one of these ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell

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This book is part-memoir, part-journalism, and is about the author's experience going to Harvard as a black man in the late 1950s/early 1960s. In his freshman year, Harvard had included eighteen black men as students at a time when historically, at that point, maybe only one or two were admitted per year. United by their being perceived as "other" by the rest of the student body, even though only some of them identified as African American
...more
Pamela ✨I Blame Wizards✨
The Last Negroes at Harvard was an important book with a fascinating subject matter and a lot to say. It was part memoirs, part journalism, part dry-ish non-fiction, which is the only reason I didn't rate it higher.

The parts of The Last Negroes at Harvard that were memoir had the best literary style. They were emotive and involving, and really helped put me in the shoes of the authors; something that is essential for a subject matter that will be read by people from diverse backgrounds and
...more
Rama
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Champions of Change

In 1959, Harvard University recruited eighteen African American men to its undergraduate program as a symbolic gesture of affirmative action, a term that did not exist at that time. Author Kent Garrett, one of these kids recalls and recollects his experiences at the famous school and brings us into the same page; how it was like to be black at Harvard at that time. In fact, they were referred to as negroes but later would change the term to African Americans. This book is an
...more
Danny Daley
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating book; both insightful and frustrating, as good books often are. The story is framed as a journalistic memoir of Garrett and the other 17 black students who began at Harvard together in 1959. The book ends up being an engrossing account of many social and cultural realities of race in the U.S. in the 1960s as well as details about Harvard and Boston at large. It covers everything from racial politics, to a fortuitous lunch with Malcolm X, to Garrett's summer romance with an ...more
Kimberley
This is a well-researched book: meticulously detailed and carefully investigated. No Stone was left unturned and every individual story was treated with the utmost respect.

That said, there was a LOT to wade through and far too much of the wading felt like a monumental task.

So many narratives. So many stories. So many different experiences. Its any wonder it took near a decade to put this into publication: there was so much to do and Garrett essentially started from what amounts to a set of
...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
In 1959, eighteen "Negroes," entered the Harvard College class of 1963. When they left, they would be "Afro Americans" or "African Americans." Kent Garrett was one of that class and he spent a decade tracking down his classmates to see what they had done, how Harvard had affected them, and how they had changed Harvard. It's a thoughtful slice of history, made personal by many memories as the old classmates remind each other of those days before Kennedy was assassinated, before the Civil Rights ...more
J.D.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book throughout although given its length the content covered was quite ambitious which left me wanting for more.

The book starts talking about going to find out others from the same class who graduated and we find out over time that was done but very little of the space is given talking about the years after Harvard. I think I would have enjoyed it most to spend time covering the years at Harvard with the prevailing currents covered(as was done) with more time spent after
...more
Sara
3.5 stars. The topic is intriguing, realizing that Harvard was at times different and dismally the same as the larger American society in its treatment of blacks.

The portions of Garrett's book dealing with his history and the vignettes of his classmates' lives are the best. Well written, engaging, and compelling character sketches. Where Garrett's narrative falls short is the often dry recitations and attempts to link this unique cohort with the events of the larger world. As he was mostly a
...more
Mystic Miraflores
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
The authors did a good job weaving the students' personal histories with the background social, cultural, and political events of the early 1960s. To me the most interesting parts of the book was about the lives of the students after they graduated and had their careers. It was satisfying to observe that most of them had successful lives and careers. It was quite sad to read about those who died young and never had a chance to live full lives.
Kirk Dobihal
Very interesting, especially growing up in the shadow of Yale during the 1960's. Knowing a few Harvard students and Yale students however, not knowing any Blacks this was illuminating. Once again shame on the WASP but hope maybe for the future.
Rafael Suleiman
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very good story about some of the last designated 'Negro' entrants to Harvard University.
Greg Davis
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Wish I had written it.
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