Thursday, September 5, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

What a perfect time to be reading and discussing Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead's somewhat autobiographical novel about teenage boys at an all black resort in upstate New York. The history of all-black resort towns is not as well known as it should be, and like many such pre civil rights  institutions, there is currently tension on how, and indeed whether to preserve these traditions, as this article from the Huffington Post shows.

Whitehead's book is fiction, but he includes plenty of authentic Sag Harbor history. There really was a Maude Terry, and she really did develop the idea of a summer resort for black families back in the late 1940s.  Sag Harbor geography  commemorates  African American celebrities who vacationed there.  “There is a Paul Robeson Street. Robeson came here,” says William Pickens of the singer and civil rights activist. “Several black artists and musicians did. Langston Hughes used to come out in the 1950s and stay at my parents’ house, read poems on their porch. He was a college roommate of my father’s and an old pal of my mother’s. He even wrote her a poem back in 1925.” ("Sag Harbor Works to Save History")

You can read Whitehead's interview with Amazon, or listen to him talk about the book in this NPR interview.

Join us for our Sag Harbor discussion on Tuesday September 17th! Call 847-448-8620 to register.