Gail Lumet Buckley’s The Black Calhouns: From Civil War to Civil Rights with One African American Family makes good on the promise of its comprehensive title. Buckley is the daughter of the great actress and singer Lena Horne, and yet her family history only gets more distinguished and fascinating from there. Her great-great grandfather Moses Calhoun was a slave who turned an education garnered in bondage into a business career of note after the Civil War.
Grandfather Moses begat a rich family legacy that is both exceptional and indicative of the racial history of the United States. Buckley’s story covers six generations. Often stunning, always enlightening, The Black Calhouns is a monument to style, ambition, courage, grace and character under the most difficult of circumstances. It reads like a powerful timeless old spiritual that had its heart-wrenching, uplifting notes fractured into words and printed on the page.