The Stewarts, 1853-1963
Albert S. Broussard
T. McCants Stewart was a prominent African-American in his day, a lawyer during the Reconstruction who later became a minister, politician, and racial activist and was regarded by his peers as one of the most significant black leaders of his generation. This book illuminates the professional career and private lives of Stewart and his descendants over three generations, providing an epic account of an African-American family in America.
Albert Broussard researched Stewart family papers and interviewed nearly every surviving family member to tell their unusual story. He not only presents the first major study of T. McCants Stewart's civil rights and political career; he also tells how Stewart's descendants rejected white society's negative image of blacks and worked to improve themselves and uplift their race: Stewart's son Gilchrist became a successful civil rights leader and attorney and his daughter Carlotta an educator, while granddaughter Katherine directed a Head Start program and her husband Robert Flippin was the first black parole officer at San Quentin prison.
“Broussard offers a candid portrait of a family and, by extension, a class of aspiring people who have too often escaped the consideration of scholars. He has written a compelling and at times moving account of an American family.”
—Western Historical Quarterly
“The study piques our interest in many unexplored areas of black history and serves as an important reminder that, if we are to fully understand black life, we will have to have many more family histories such a this compelling one of the Stewarts.”
—Journal of American HistorySee all reviews...
“Clearly written and engaging.”
—American Historical Review
“A useful, interesting survey of one African American family across three generations.”
—Journal of Southern History
“An extraordinary glimpse into the turbulent, troubled world of three generations of an elite African-American family. Broussard masterfully weaves the Stewarts' century-long, often frustrating campaign for success and prominence with the bittersweet history of black people in an increasingly racially stratified America. I was so fascinated that I read it through in one sitting.”
—Quintard Taylor, author of In Search of a Racial Frontier
“An insightful and engaging biography of the inner lives and the public world of a nineteenth-century black patriarch and his progeny. Broussard is to be especially commended for his use of gender and professional class in his analysis. His insightful chapter on Carlotta Stewart Lai is solidly grounded in the best scholarship in black women's history and theory. A major contribution to African-American history, this book deserves and is certain to attract a wide and diverse readership among scholars and general readers alike.”
—Darlene Clark Hine, author of Speak Truth to Power: The Black Professional Class in United States HistorySee fewer reviews...
The saga of the Stewarts begins in antebellum Charleston but moves on to New York, Africa, Hawaii, and numerous other locales to relate how this family fulfilled a mission to provide leadership and service to its community. Exploring issues of class, intergenerational relations, and community activism, it provides a wealth of material on the black community that spans two centuries.
A particular value of Broussard's work is his account of how Stewart women coped with an overbearing patriarch and forged meaningful careers in an era when black females usually held menial jobs. By sharing experiences of both genders, he offers insights into the different strategies that black men and women used to meet their personal goals and collective obligations.
Intelligent, ambitious, and entrepreneurial, the Stewarts have much to tell us about what it was to be African-American over the last hundred years. By linking their history to the changing status of African-Americans at home and abroad, this book weaves the contributions of an extraordinary family into the larger drama of American race relations.