Celebrating Black History Month at the VCU Libraries
Reviewed by Kevin Farley, Collection Librarian for the Humanities
Julian Houston, an associate justice of the Superior Court of Massachusetts, grew up in Richmond in the early Civil Rights era. His young adult novel, the semi-autobiographical New Boy, recounts Houston's experiences in the wake of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling against segregation, Brown vs. Board of Education—a decision that sparked the closing of the Prince Edward County school system in Virginia. Houston's story skillfully shows the torn allegiances of Robert Garrett, whose academic success propels him into the world of Draper Academy, a private school in Connecticut in the late 1950s. As Draper's first black student, Garrett must face prejudice in unfamiliar forms, while also struggling with the isolation of being at Draper as the larger struggle for Civil Rights takes place at home. At each stage of his journey, Garrett meets resistance and acceptance from family, friends, and strangers alike, maturing into a compassionate leader and activist against racism.