"Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family"

Apr 5, 2018

Our guest is Bruce D. Haynes, a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Davis. He's the co-author of a new memoir, "Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family," which interestingly blends personal narrative, African-American social history, and the literary and academic cultures of Harlem and New York City. The book tells the story not just of a certain family, but of the house, the neighborhood, and the city that this family lived and thrived in, thereby capturing the tides of change that pushed blacks forward through the 20th century -- the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, the early Civil Rights victories, and the Black Power and Black Arts movements...as well as the many forces that ravaged black communities, including Haynes's own. Per Publishers Weekly: "This thoughtful and sobering memoir weaves the beauty and tragedy of Haynes's family story into the complex history of Harlem.... Like Harlem's story, the memoir is bittersweet, painting a full and complicated picture of black upper-class life over generations."