By Kathryn Talalay
George Schuyler, a popular and debatable black journalist of the Harlem Renaissance, and Josephine Cogdell, a blond, blue-eyed Texas heiress and granddaughter of slave vendors, believed that intermarriage might "invigorate" the races, thereby generating remarkable offspring. Their daughter, Philippa Duke Schuyler, turned the embodiment of this concept, and so they was hoping she might end up that interracial kids represented the ultimate option to America's race problems.
capable of learn and write on the age of 2 and a part, a pianist at 4, and a composer through 5, Philippa was once usually in comparison to Mozart. throughout the Nineteen Thirties and 40s she graced the pages of Time and Look magazines, the New York usher in Tribune, and The New Yorker. Philippa grew up below the adoring and inquisitive eyes of a whole country and shortly turned the position version and concept for a new release of African-American young ones. yet as an grownup she mysteriously dropped out of sight, leaving the USA to ask yourself what had occurred to the "little Harlem genius." ache the double sting of racism and gender bias, Philippa have been rejected by way of the elite classical song milieu within the usa and compelled to discover an viewers overseas, the place she flourished as a world-class performer and composer. She traveled all through South the US, Europe, Africa, and Asia acting for kings, queens, and presidents. via then Philippa had extra a moment profession as an writer and international correspondent reporting on occasions round the globe--from Albert Schweitzer's leper colony in Lamberéné to the turbulent Asian theater of the Nineteen Sixties. She may supply a command functionality for Queen Elisabeth of Belgium in the future, and conceal from the Viet Cong one of the historic graves of the Annam kings another.
yet in the back of the scrim of event, glamour, and intrigue was once an American outcast, a lady continuously trying to find domestic and self. "I am a beauty--but i am part colored...so i am continually destined to be an outsider," she wrote in her diary. Philippa attempted to outline herself via amorous affairs, yet chanced on simply unhappiness and scandal. In a final try and reclaim an identification, she started to "pass" as Caucasian. Adopting an Iberian-American historical past, she reinvented herself as Felipa Monterro, an ultra-right conservative who wrote and lectured for the loo Birch Society. Her scan failed, as had her mom and dad' dream of smashing America's racial obstacles. yet on the age of thirty 5, Philippa ultimately started to embark on a racial catharsis: She was once simply commencing to locate herself while on could nine, 1967, whereas on an unauthorized project of mercy, her lifestyles was once lower brief in a helicopter crash over the waters of war-torn Vietnam.
the 1st licensed biography of Philippa Schuyler, Composition in Black and White attracts on formerly unpublished letters and diaries to bare a unprecedented and intricate character. huge study and private interviews from world wide make this e-book not just the definitive chronicle of Schuyler's stressed and haunting existence, but additionally a brilliant historical past of the tumultuous occasions she lived via, from the nice melancholy, during the Civil Rights stream, to the Vietnam conflict. Talalay has created a hugely perceptive and provocative portrait of a desirable lady.
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Additional info for Composition in Black and White: The Life of Philippa Schuyler
I became conscious that I was quite close to him. I stirred. "Good morning," he said. " I moved even closer to show I appreciated his conduct and was not afraid of him. We lay like this a while and then he said very quietly, "You arouse me greatly, Josephine. I hope you will forgive me. . " I did not move from him. After a little he said in a sort of gesture of apology and despair—"Oh, Josephine. . " He sensed my relaxation and put his hand gently upon my hip. " he asked hesitatingly. . He drew me to him.
6 When George was home, he shared writing in the scrapbook. Unlike Josephine's handwriting, which was large and scrawly, George's was small, neat, and tight, almost as if he were trying to squeeze in as much as possible during these brief visits with Philippa. Always the reporter, his overwhelming joy is betrayed only by punctuation: Philippa! It is the evening of October 4, 1932, and you are two days over 14 months of age! You are an excellent mimic. You clap your hands, snap your fingers, drum, dance, pat your stomach and rub your head all in direct imitation of your father.
Their apartment was on the fourth floor of the elite Park Lincoln at 321 Edgecombe Avenue, a quiet, tree-lined thoroughfare stretching from 145th to 155th with no intervening side streets. Opposite was Colonial Park, where weathered benches and tall maples lined the broad sidewalk. As a small child, Philippa would spend many hours playing in the park or sitting with her mother on these benches, watching the passing parade of Harlem. The Edgecombe apartments — all brown and yellow and white brick, sturdy, immaculately kept, many with recessed entrances and colorful marquees, and tended by doormen in gold braid —announced the opulence of Sugar Hill.