• Margo Jefferson
Cover of Negroland: A Memoir

Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic Margo Jefferson was born in 1947 into upper-crust black Chicago. Her father was head of pediatrics at Provident Hospital, while her mother was a socialite. In these pages, Jefferson takes us into this insular and discerning society: ‘I call it Negroland, she writes, ‘because I still find Negro a word of wonders, glorious and terrible. Negrolands pedigree dates back generations, having originated with antebellum free Blacks who made their fortunes among the plantations of the South. It evolved into a world of exclusive sororities, fraternities, networks, and clubs--a world in which skin color and hair texture were relentlessly evaluated alongside scholarly and professional achievements, where the Talented Tenth positioned themselves as a third race between whites and ‘the masses of Negros, and where the motto was ‘Achievement. Invulnerability. Comportment. At once incendiary and icy, mischievous and provocative, celebratory and elegiac, Negroland is a landmark work on privilege, discrimination, and the fallacy of post-racial America.


Jefferson, Margo. Negroland: A Memoir. New York: Vintage Books, 2016.