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Publisher's Summary

From New York Times best-selling author Elizabeth Dowling Taylor comes this riveting chronicle of a critical yet overlooked chapter in American history: the inspiring rise and calculated fall of the Black elite, from Emancipation through Reconstruction to the Jim Crow Era - embodied in the experiences of an influential figure of the time, academic, entrepreneur, and political activist and Black history pioneer Daniel Murray.

This cultural biography tells the enthralling story of the high-achieving Black elites who thrived in the nation's capital during Reconstruction. Daniel Murray (1851-1925), an assistant librarian at the Library of Congress, was a prominent member of this glorious class. Murray's life was reflective of those who were well-off at the time.

This social circle included African American educators, ministers, lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, US senators and representatives, and other government officials. Among the luminaries were Francis and Archibald Grimke, Blanche Bruce, Pinckney Pinchback, Robert and Mary Church Terrell, Booker T. Washington, and W. E. B. DuBois.

The elite were primed to assimilate into the cultural fabric as Americans first and people of color second. Education was a pearl of great pride, and they sent their children to the best schools - Phillips Academy, Cornell, and Harvard. They belonged to exclusive clubs, cultivated genteel manners, owned opulent homes, threw elaborate parties, dressed to the nines, and summered in special enclaves.

The rug was pulled from under all African Americans when they were betrayed by the federal government as the cost of reconciliation with the South. In response to renewed oppression, Murray and others in his class fought back, establishing themselves as inspiring race activists.

Elizabeth Dowling Taylor's powerful work brings to light a dark chapter of race relations that too many have yet to own.

©2017 Elizabeth Dowling Taylor (P)2018 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Original Black Elite

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awesome

excellent story unknown black history is exciting to read. to know that we did more then what is told is the best knowledge I recommend this book to all people

7 people found this helpful

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Our History

It was an very interesting read . The aspect of culture and the elegance thereof is longed missed within our culture at this time. The selflessness is also missed.

7 people found this helpful

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One of the best read books I've heard...

Karen Chilton has an erudite voice that captures the life of a sophisticated family with élan. The life of one the US Library of Congress' most fascinating men and his journey from success to rekindled racism in the early 20th century is sadly one that resonates today. I was transported and if I were living through that post Civil War period, and felt the tides change in public life in Washington DC in the 60 years that passed after it...exemplified in one life.

5 people found this helpful

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Awesome history

awesome details of a forgotten period in African American history. We need this taught in our schools.

4 people found this helpful

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Great Book

Full of American history and achievements to progress of African Americans rights. It highlights how the US Government has helped and hindered the Africans Americans throughout history.

2 people found this helpful

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Lost era

This is an error I knew nothing about. I was glad to learn of this important era of black striving to achieve higher learning, In striving for accomplish seen higher strives in life.

5 people found this helpful

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Great Book, extremely informative.

Narrator was excellent. A great subject to learn about. This book tells a forgotten history and sheds truth on misconceptions.

1 person found this helpful

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Rich history. Lots of names to keep up with.

I enjoyed the research and success stories. Grab a pen and take notes on all the names of the interconnected Black elite community. Very interesting and a great source of pride.

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wonderful

I absolutely loved it! This is one of the best and informative books that I have ever heard. I am going to buy two paper copies for my grandchildren

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Great history of Wash, DC!

As a Washingtonian from birth, I loved reading the history of places in my city that I've known all my life. I did not know the hidden history of prominent people in my hometown in the Reconstruction Era and after. While the book cld have been a more entertaining storytelling tome, it is instead, a senior thesis or dissertation. I wish the snobbish elitism wld have been directly juxtaposed with the documented drudgery and toil of the majority. Still, I enjoyed it. Those not from Washington DC might not have the same thrill and identification with the details about the city 'back then'. Read and share this textbook.