"'Yes, it took a village to give race to a child!'"

Most of us take what we learn from history books at face value. But history has many angles and aspects, and in condensing it into a single historical tome, much is lost or simply overlooked. The author was not content accepting the official story behind his family's history, and the result is this well-researched book. Calloway’s biographical odyssey takes a deep dive into the history of a single half-white slave named Aaron Calloway who lived in the late 1800s. The book explores not only this one man’s path through life but also how that life affected the lives of his children all the way down to the present day. Calloway uses historical records to track his family tree beginning with Aaron and then all the way down to the author's grandfather, Arthur Calloway.

Using estate records, official census records, wills, letters, and other primary documents, the author painstakingly tracks his family's movements through Georgia and out into other states—wherever the records take him. In doing so, we learn that reality is not as cut and dried as we're usually led to believe. Some people of color, for instance, were truly treated like property, while others (like Aaron) were allowed more freedoms for no discernable reason. Due to the author’s exhaustive research, Calloway’s family saga is not always an easy book to read; it is dense and packed with references to names and dates—sometimes without anything obvious to tie them together. Nevertheless, it is an interesting look at how history shapes each person differently, and how we all probably owe more to our family trees than we realize.

Return to USR Home