Fifteen-year-old Rob Garrett wants nothing more than to escape the segregated South and prove himself. But in the late 1950s Virginia, opportunity doesn't come easily to an African-American teenager. So Rob's parents take the unusual step of enrolling their son in a Connecticut boarding school, Draper, where he will have the best education available. He will also be the first student of color in the school's history.
But times are changing. While Rob is experiencing the privilege and isolation of boarding school, a movement is rising back home. Men and women are organizing, demanding an end to segregation, and in Rob's hometown, his friends are on the verge of taking action. There is even talk about a sit-in at a lunch counter that refuses to serve black people. How can Rob hope to make a difference when he's a world away?
Julian Houston eloquently tells the story of a teenage boy confronting the normal adolescent concerns of grades, girls, and parental control while at the same time grappling with the larger issue of what it means to be African American in the United States in the 1950s. It was the time of both Malcolm X's movement and nonviolent protests, a time when parts of our country made halting steps toward integration while other parts fought against it. From the immaculate hallways of Draper, to the jazz clubs of Harlem, to the racially divided streets of Charlottesville, Rob travels through a changing world and discovers himself along the way.
was born in Richmond, Virginia, and educated in the public schools of that city before attending the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. He attended Boston University and was a community organizer in Harlem during the civil rights movement.
He is now an associate justice of the Superior Court of Massachusetts. Judge Houston has initiated a number of programs that build and strengthen relationships between communities, including Roxbury Youthworks, a development program for inner-city youth, and Long Road to Justice: The African American Experience in the Massachusetts Courts
, a multimedia exhibit that can be seen at www.masshist.org/longroad
He has written articles for the Boston Globe
, the Boston Observer
, and the Boston Bar Journal
Judge Houston lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and family.