Reading: Helen Pruden Kaufmann on growing up in Edenton during the end of Jim Crow | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Friday, June 6, 2014

Reading: Helen Pruden Kaufmann on growing up in Edenton during the end of Jim Crow

Posted by on Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 2:26 PM

click to enlarge gloves.jpg
Helen Pruden Kaufmann’s memoir WHITE GLOVES AND COLLARDS (HPK Press) has been out for half a year but may have slipped under your radar, being self-published (though very professionally done). If you’re interested in intimate, humble, sharp-edged reports on Southern life during the Civil Rights Movement, don’t let it.

The book mainly covers the author’s public school years (1956–1969) in Edenton, N.C., “The South’s Prettiest Small Town.” We also glimpse 2012, by which time Kaufmann has earned an American history degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and worked for a public school desegregation program in Massachusetts.

There are personal coming-of-age conflicts, particularly the early deaths of Kaufmann’s parents. But the book thrives on its acutely local yet broadly representative view of the effects of the end of Jim Crow in an Inner Banks town anchored by a Confederate monument, with news of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Power movement coming over the airwaves.

The cast includes a wised-up older brother, a reactionary extended family and a “sage African-American maid.” This stock characterization from the jacket summary sells the content short—Kaufmann does not caricature Edenton, which she is clearly fond of; instead, she draws the complex interface of nostalgia and progress in an honest, humane way. Her characters test and mix our sympathies.

In 1983, Kaufmann covers her baby’s ears against a casual racial slur dropped by her great-aunt—the same eccentric who, in 1956, embarrassed Kaufmann by bringing her “Wednesday” underwear to school, as she’d neglected to change out of Tuesday’s. This figure dramatizes both the darker and lighter sides of Southern traditionalism.

Supplemented with family photos and recipes, White Gloves’ short chapters frame key places and events, whisking us briskly from a family vacation in Nag’s Head to a civil rights sit-in at a local pharmacy. This is a critical yet affectionate and accessible family portrait that denies itself the self-flattery of sweeping moral indignation.

Kaufmann reads at Quail Ridge at 7:30 p.m. on June 6 and at McIntyre’s in Pittsboro at 11 a.m. on June 7.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

I have used Cyberhacklove@gmail.com quite a number of times and they have never disappointed me.They helped me monitor my Spouse …

by Susan Mark on Dance Review: Ashley McCullough's Conscious Oblivion Leaps Out at Emergence (Arts)

You stopped the arts coverage to cover the election..... You were probably better off just covering the arts, rather than …

by Matt Price on Will to Live Cautiously Returning? Here's a Few Things to Do This Week. (Arts)

Thanks for being there. You will be missed.

by vidvis on Theater News: Common Ground Theatre to Go Dark in December (Arts)

Dude you got me the interest to read more, thanks to your content. Great thanks for that. There are some …

by mjoshuagarcia on Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War Is Like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with a Marvel Smirk Instead of a DC Frown (Arts)

We didn't receive the photo credit with the picture, but I'm happy to add it now.

by Brian Howe, INDY managing editor for arts & culture on Dance Review: Ashley McCullough's Conscious Oblivion Leaps Out at Emergence (Arts)

Comments

I have used Cyberhacklove@gmail.com quite a number of times and they have never disappointed me.They helped me monitor my Spouse …

by Susan Mark on Dance Review: Ashley McCullough's Conscious Oblivion Leaps Out at Emergence (Arts)

You stopped the arts coverage to cover the election..... You were probably better off just covering the arts, rather than …

by Matt Price on Will to Live Cautiously Returning? Here's a Few Things to Do This Week. (Arts)

Most Read

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation