The untold story of the Harvard class of ’63, whose Black students fought to create their own identities on the cusp between integration and affirmative action.
In the fall of 1959, Harvard recruited eighteen “Negro” boys as an experiment, an early form of affirmative action. Four years later they would graduate as African Americans. Some fifty years later, one of these trailblazing Harvard grads, Kent Garrett, began to reconnect with his classmates and explore their vastly different backgrounds, lives, and what their time at Harvard meant.
Garrett and his partner Jeanne Ellsworth recount how these young men broke new ground. By the time they were seniors, they would have demonstrated against injustice, had lunch with Malcolm X, experienced heartbreak and the racism of academia, and joined with their African national classmates to fight for the right to form an exclusive Black students’ group.
Part journey into personal history, part group portrait, and part narrative history of the civil rights movement, this is the remarkable story of brilliant, singular boys whose identities were changed at and by Harvard, and who, in turn, changed Harvard.