66 pages 2 hours read

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2021

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Part 9 and Song 7Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 9, Sections 1-3 Summary

This summary covers “Which Negroes Do You Know?,” “Mammies, or, How They Show Out in Harlem,” and “Umoja, Youngblood.”

At age 28, Ailey starts graduate school to pursue a PhD in history at North Carolina Regents University. Unlike Routledge, this school has a majority-white student body. Ailey works hard at her assignments each week but also continues to complete research for Dr. Oludara’s book at the school library’s Old South archives.

Ailey regularly spends time at the only Black-owned restaurant in town, Shug’s. Scooter, a fellow Black graduate student in business, frequently joins her there. He continually invites her over for dinner, but she declines because Scooter’s white wife Rebecca is also in the history program and Ailey does not like her. Rebecca’s research, as she explains to Ailey in the library one day, focuses on “mammies” with the goal of showing that although “people talk about how there was so much animosity between masters and slaves,” enslaved people were often “part of the family” (620). Ailey’s hatred for Rebecca only intensifies when she overhears Rebecca referring to her as “kiss-ass” and a “charity case” whom the university only admitted because of affirmative action (624).

Gradually, Scooter grows closer to Ailey, persuading her to give him her telephone number and then showing up at her apartment from time to time.

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