Alberta Bontemps, widow of acclaimed scholar and Harlem Renaissance writer Arna Bontemps, celebrated her 90th birthday in September and looks back on her life with great joy and understanding.
Born in 1906 and raised in Waycross, GA [Georgia] Bontemps has lived in Nashville, with a brief hiatus, for more than 50 years. She has traveled the world and lived in many cities, and particularly recalls life in her early years growing up in the segregated South.
"In those days, there were very few opportunities for black children graduating from eighth grade," she says. "There were no local high schools for black children. You had to go either to Savannah or someplace else. I couldn't go away because my family was poor.
"So I got involved with the Seventh Day Adventists, who were recruiting young people who needed further education, through them, I went to...