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Uncompromising Activist

Richard Greener, First Black Graduate of Harvard College

Katherine Reynolds Chaddock

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Almost forgotten until his papers were discovered in a Chicago attic, Richard Greener was a pioneer who broke educational and professional barriers for black citizens. He was also a man caught between worlds.




Richard Theodore Greener (1844–1922) was a renowned black activist and scholar. In 1870, he was the first black graduate of Harvard College. During Reconstruction, he was the first black faculty member at a southern white college, the University of South Carolina. He was even the first black US diplomat to a white country, serving in Vladivostok, Russia. A notable speaker and writer for…

Almost forgotten until his papers were discovered in a Chicago attic, Richard Greener was a pioneer who broke educational and professional barriers for black citizens. He was also a man caught between worlds.




Richard Theodore Greener (1844–1922) was a renowned black activist and scholar. In 1870, he was the first black graduate of Harvard College. During Reconstruction, he was the first black faculty member at a southern white college, the University of South Carolina. He was even the first black US diplomat to a white country, serving in Vladivostok, Russia. A notable speaker and writer for racial equality, he also served as a dean of the Howard University School of Law and as the administrative head of the Ulysses S. Grant Monument Association. Yet he died in obscurity, his name barely remembered.

His black friends and colleagues often looked askance at the light-skinned Greener’s ease among whites and sometimes wrongfully accused him of trying to "pass." While he was overseas on a diplomatic mission, Greener’s wife and five children stayed in New York City, changed their names, and vanished into white society. Greener never saw them again. At a time when Americans viewed themselves simply as either white or not, Greener lost not only his family but also his sense of clarity about race.

Richard Greener’s story demonstrates the human realities of racial politics throughout the fight for abolition, the struggle for equal rights, and the backslide into legal segregation. Katherine Reynolds Chaddock has written a long overdue narrative biography about a man, fascinating in his own right, who also exemplified America’s discomfiting perspectives on race and skin color. Uncompromising Activist is a lively tale that will interest anyone curious about the human elements of the equal rights struggle.

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Uncompromising Activist

Katherine Reynolds Chaddock

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Reviews

The greatest strength in Chaddock's account is that it is driven by context. Although Uncompromising Activist focuses on the life of one man, it is a case study in how an individual’s life is defined as much by temporal circumstance as by individual choice.

Mrs. Chaddock does a fine job in the short space she has to examine Mr. Greener’s life, accomplishments, and disappointments, something that he had to always struggle with. For bringing back to life a voice that has been lost and forgotten, this book does a good job.

Uncompromising Activist is a lively tale that will interest anyone curious about the human elements of the equal rights struggle.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
216
ISBN
9781421423296
Illustration Description
7 b&w photos
Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Boyhood Interrupted
2. Being Prepared
3. Experiment at Harvard
4. An Accidental Academic
5. Professing in a Small and Angry Place
6. The Brutal Retreat
7. Unsettled Advocate
8. A Violent

Introduction
1. Boyhood Interrupted
2. Being Prepared
3. Experiment at Harvard
4. An Accidental Academic
5. Professing in a Small and Angry Place
6. The Brutal Retreat
7. Unsettled Advocate
8. A Violent Attack and Hopeless Case
9. Monumental Plans
10. Off White
11. Our Man in Vladivostok
12. Closure in Black and White
Epilogue
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Katherine Reynolds Chaddock
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Katherine Reynolds Chaddock

Katherine Reynolds Chaddock is distinguished professor emerita of education at the University of South Carolina. She is the author of The Multi-Talented Mr. Erskine: Shaping Mass Culture through Great Books and Fine Music and Visions and Vanities: John Andrew Rice of Black Mountain College.
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