A Self-Portrait of Black America

A classic on the ideas, values, and attitudes that inform ordinary black life in America

Drylongso is a work which entertains even as it instructs and enlightens. . . . I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Drylongso should come to be regarded as a classic.” —Ralph Ellison

In writing his Self-Portrait of Black America, anthropologist, folklorist, and humanist John Gwaltney went in search of “Core Black People”—the ordinary men and women who make up black America—and asked them to define their culture. Their responses, recorded in Drylongso, are to American oral history what blues and jazz are to American music. If the people in William H. Johnson's and Jacob Lawrence's paintings could talk, this is what they would say.


“This book is terrifying and illuminating. Not since the nineteenth-century slave narratives have so many black Americans told such truths to white America.”
—Maya Angelou
“Powerful, eloquent, and—I hope—disturbing.”
—Studs Terkel

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