BALM IN GILEAD
In Balm in Gilead, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, the MacArthur Prize-winning sociologist, tells her mother’s amazing story with both candor and passion.
From girlhood in rigidly separated Vicksburg, Mississippi, to a distinguished career as a child psychiatrist, Dr. Margaret Lawrence has overcome every obstacle facing black women in our time. After high school in Harlem, she entered Cornell, where, as the only black undergraduate at the time, she supported herself as a maid. From Columbia Medical School and pediatric residency at Harlem Hospital, she went to Nashville to teach at all-black Meharry Medical College, then returned to New York for work in public health under Benjamin Spock and training at the all-white and largely male Columbia Psychoanalytic Clinic.
This stirring portrait is also a mirror to an extraordinary black family, tracing its legacy of preaching, teaching, and healing, as well as a legacy of sorrow: the pain of racism, the destructive hierarchies of skin color and gender which pervade black as well as white society. Myths and stereotypes surrounding black family life are exploded by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. Above all, Balm in Gilead is a romance, the story of an inspired marriage that lasted half a century and made real the dreams of four generations.
A deeply moving portrait…Challenges everyone to think again about racism, families and the connections between women across generations.
Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice
Brings a social scientist’s skill and a poet’s heart to a labor of love.
Derrick Bell, Harvard Law School
Must be read by everybody who wants to better understand the Black experience and our nation’s task.
James Comer, M.D., Yale School of Medicine
Notwithstanding the traumas and deep pain it chronicles, this life-affirming work celebrates human endurance, courage and strength.
Howard Gardner, Harvard University
A deeply affectionate memoir that controls the reader’s anger at human prejudice through the moral authority of a heroine whose capacity for gentle understanding has obviously been transferred to her unusually talented daughter.
Jerome Kagan, Harvard University
A gift to every woman striving to achieve and adhere to principles of equality and justice.
Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund
The story of a triumphant American life.
Sissela Bok, author of Lying and Secrets
Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence, distinguished pioneer in child psychiatry, has subjected herself to a ‘second analysis’ by her distinguished daughter…This kind of study is rare in any group and virtually non-existent among middle-class blacks.
John Hope Franklin, Duke University
In this unique love story, a talented daughter magically discovers in her unusual mother the role model, the woman, and the psychoanalyst.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, Georgetown University Law Center