True Names

Four Generations of My Afro Appalachian Family


By Malaika Adero

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$34.00 CAD



  1. Hardcover $27.00 $34.00 CAD
  2. ebook $13.99 $17.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 1, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

African Americans in Southern Appalachia faced a particularly rural kind of oppression, no matter what names they were called-black, Melungeon or mulatto. True Names: Four Generations of My Afro Appalachian Family tells the story of four generations of Black people, burdened by the absurdities of race, who created a rich, triumphant family culture in Knoxville, Tennessee.

African Americans are particularly challenged when they attempt to know the history of their families. Facts of their ancestors’ lives are often lost in time and rarely recorded. True Names brings together the evidence of the African American presence in Appalachia from the time Africans and Europeans first arrived in the region centuries ago.

This well-researched narrative of two families coming together in their process of emancipation from the end of Slavery to the Black Power movement is based on oral histories, government records and family documents. Set in East Tennessee, it reaches far beyond, to other places–South, North and Midwest. In personal and political terms, it reveals the impact of the Great Migration on individuals who chose to remain in the South. Their story is that they survived and thrived by maintaining family culture and values across distance and time.

True Names reveals this sustaining family culture, an untold part of the history of rural America, recently popularized in such books as Hillbilly Elegy and The Glass Castle.

Sgt. Grundy Crump, who served in the Civil War, begins the story; it continues with the author’s mother, who successfully battled for a place for herself and her five children to thrive in the turbulent 1960s; and it concludes with the author’s affirmation of her own identity and the right to her own true name.

On Sale
Dec 1, 2020
Page Count
272 pages
Center Street

Malaika Adero

About the Author

MALAIKA ADERO is author of Up South: Stories, Studies and Letters of This Century’s African American Migrations and coauthor of Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. Her decades long career in book publishing includes working with critically acclaimed and bestselling authors. Most recently she wrote The Mother of Black Hollywood with Jenifer Lewis. She has served such institutions as the Kennedy Center, The Schomburg Center, PEN and MAPP International. She lives in New York City and Atlanta, Georgia.

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