While I Run This Race:
A Memoir of Challenge, Hope and Transcendence

by Pocahontas Gertler

Createspace, 2011. ISBN 978-1-461-13273-8.
Reviewed by Khadijah A.
Posted on 08/04/2012

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: History/Current Events; Nonfiction: Life Lessons

In this lovingly written memoir, Pocahontas Gertler reminds us gently but firmly of the importance of story in transformation—of individuals, communities, or society as a whole. Gertler grew up in the deep South during the Thirties and Forties, the daughter of a Native American mother and an African American father. She experienced poverty and racism firsthand, and saw the effects that these had on the people around her. She writes movingly of what it was like to be dark-skinned in world where light skin equalled beauty, even within her own family. I was intrigued by her account of life under segregation, something which is difficult for me to imagine, having been born in the North after the Civil Rights Movement had already begun to bear fruit nationwide.

Gertler tells us of her experiences in Catholic school, and later a boarding school and college. She shares her feelings of insecurity while at the same time telling us of how she worked, in her own quiet, steady way, to beat down the walls of racism in any way she was able. She welcomes us into her heart and mind as she takes us down the path she traveled from an abusive marriage to one based on love and mutual respect. Her hope and optimism despite having seen the dark side of humanity again and again is a lesson for all of us.

Gertler is not a movie star. She is not a famous athlete or a world traveller. To some, her story might seem unimportant. But in the end, it is extremely important, as she opens a window into another world for many of us, using simple language, strong emotion and a quiet wit to give a voice to many who otherwise may have remained forever without a voice of their own.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Pocahontas Gertler, LHD, got her primary and secondary education in pre-Civil Rights era Georgia and Florida, and graduated from National College with a BA in Sociology. She later went on to earn her Master of Education degree from Chestnut Hill College. As a student, she helped integrate a college in a segregated environment. She has been a social worker, a chaplain's assistant in the United States Air Force, a trained singer of classical music, a mother, a lecturer, a teacher, an entrepreneur and an author. Visit her website.

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