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Color Me Dark: The Diary of Nellie Lee Love, the Great Migration North, Chicago, Illinois, 1919 (Dear America)

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Color Me Dark: The Diary of Nellie Lee Love, the Great Migration North, Chicago, Illinois, 1919 (Dear America)
Publisher
Age Range
10+
Release Date
April 01, 2000
ISBN
0590511599
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An ordinary girl living extraordinary events. Her family, Love, characterizes her comfortable, secure world in Bradford Corners, TN. Until Uncle Pace is murdered by the KKK.

The Author gradually exposes the prejudice & segregation existing even though slavery has been abolished over 50 years. All discover, how whites live on one side of the only road, & Colored live on the other. We recognize the fear in the adults' faces when the sheriff warns against reading NAACP materials. & while Nellie's father & uncle attempt to find the only Colored doctor in 2 counties - who's far away delivering twins Nellie & her sister Erma Jean watch Uncle Pace's life slip away. With his death, Erma Jean's voice abandons her. In order to find better treatment for his daughter, Mr. Love & Erma Jean leave for Chicago. Soon, Nellie Lee & her mom join them.

Life in Chicago even with less apparent segregation - isn't the promised land her family hoped. However, all that sustained the family in TN hold them together there. Home, once a large 2-story with trees, becomes a 2 room with a shared toilet. Religion, becomes Nellie & Erma's deliverance. Underneath the refined exterior, Chicago is a city of secrets. Mr. Love finds that bribery opens or shuts doors as he struggles with his business. Lake Michigan, a refuge for summer days, ignites racial rioting. The family watch in horror as a friend drowns while white's hurl rocks at Colored swimmers trying to rescue him. For over 2 weeks, all are held hostage & rioting consumes the streets: 38 dead, 100's injured, De facto segregation becomes more firmly rooted there.

Mos later, Nellie reflects on her family's time there. The lynchings, rioting. James Weldon Johnson called 1919 the Red Summer - so much blood spilled. they survived battered & torn, but standing." Her diary ends New Year's Eve, 1919 with a summary.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

History comes to life in the Dear America series
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0

It isn't often that a book successfully combines history (sometimes referred to as 'dry, dusty stuff') with a good story. Color Me Dark is a great blend of historical facts and figures told in the diary of a young girl. If it weren't for the warning at the end of the book, you would think that this fictional story was true. There is nothing within the story to suggest that it is fiction.


Nellie Lee Love is our heroine. She is a young black girl living in Bradford Corners, Tennessee in 1918. She is lucky enough to be the daughter of a successful business man rather than the child of a sharecropping family. Even so, her family feels the pressures of racism. An uncle returning from the war is killed, perhaps by Klu Klux Klan members, and the local law enforcement cannot or will not do anything about it.


With much tribulation, her father moves the entire family to Chicago, where another uncle lives. They, like many other African American families of the time, see the promise of a golden future in the northern cities. Thousands of families moved to Chicago, Boston and New York during the years after the war.


But even Chicago is not a cure for the problems Nellie's family must face. Corruption and one of the worst race riots in history greet them in the city. Racism is also alive, even between upper-class blacks and lower-class blacks. Having two names, like "Nellie Lee" is a sure sign to Chicago citizens that you are a "backwoods" girl.


Nellie and her family meet the challenges before them with grace and dignity. Their story is definitely worth reading and the historical facts are very detailed and accurate.


I strongly recommend this book for teachers to use in a class room setting. However, I don't recommend it solely for classroom use; the story is engaging enough (and the history is woven so well into the story) that anyone would enjoy this book.


Historical pictures at the end of the book and a brief historical outline are an added bonus. You might also want to explore other titles in this series, Dear America.

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3 reviews

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4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0  (3)
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5.0  (1)
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color me dark
Overall rating 
 
5.0
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5.0
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5.0
A excellent read for sure
Good Points
this book not only tells you of Nellie emotions with her sister.But of what is going on around her.It opens you eyes of what happened during the years where there is still racial hate towards different races
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Love it
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0.0
Reader reviewed by PeaceChik

This lilke this book a lot. its simply wonderful.
a country girl from tennessee after her beloved uncl's mysterious death and her sister's shock(she cant talk afterwards) mves north with the dream like many others, it will be better.
But then there's a riot, and Nellie and her family learn Chicago isnt any better.
this a good book!
Love ya McKissack!
PEAce
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Not as good as her others.
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3.0
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3.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Morgan

Patricia -----(last name here) has become one of my favorite authors especially in the Royal Diary sereies but this one failed impress me. I don't think I actually finished this one so there you go.
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