The acclaimed author of To Sir, With Love recalls his lifelong struggle against ignorance and racism while sharing a train ride with a bigoted white neighbor On a commuter train traveling from New Canaan, Connecticut, to New York’s Grand Central Station, a well-heeled white suburbanite reluctantly takes the only available seat and eventually strikes up a conversation with the black man sitting next to him. The white businessman’s verbal barrage of insensitive questions and offensive remarks incites a rage in his black neighbor that can barely be suppressed. But the offended rider is E. R. Braithwaite—former Royal Air Force pilot, Cambridge graduate, schoolteacher, social worker, diplomat, and bestselling author—and he has triumphed over prejudice and hatred throughout his truly extraordinary life and multifaceted career.
Against the backdrop of a short railway commute, E. R. Braithwaite powerfully recounts a personal history of remarkable accomplishments in the face of bigotry and hatred. Part memoir, part treatise on racial intolerance and oppression, and the ignorance that engenders them, Reluctant Neighborsis the unforgettable story of one man’s continuous struggle against injustice and his unwavering dedication to the pursuit of human dignity.
E. R. Braithwaite was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1912. Educated at the City College of New York and the University of Cambridge, he served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Braithwaite spent 1950 to 1960 in London, first as a schoolteacher and then as a welfare worker—experiences he describes in To Sir, With Love and Paid Servant, respectively. In 1966 he was appointed Guyana’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations. He has also held positions at the World Veterans Federation and UNESCO, was a professor of English at New York University’s Institute for Afro-American Affairs, and taught creative writing at Howard University. The author of five nonfiction books and two novels, he currently lives in Washington, DC. read more