3 out of 4 stars
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Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream by Dr. Frank L. Douglas is an autobiography that starts from the author’s humble beginnings in British Guyana. Frank was a very bright student throughout his childhood, which earned him the Fulbright Scholarship to attend Leigh University in the United States. The story covers all of his educational endeavors such as earning his Bachelor degree from Leigh University, earning his Ph.D. from Cornell and also graduating from Cornell’s Medical school. The latter part of the book covers his employment history and his impressive contributions to the scientific and medical communities.
Frank experienced discrimination throughout his life yet he was able to thrive in spite of it all. When he attended Queens College in British Guyana, his principle purposefully ranked him fourth overall in his year so that he would not be recognized at a school assembly. However, Frank’s test scores were so high that he was one of the top students in the entire country, which ultimately earned him the Fulbright scholarship. Frank also shed light on discrimination in America from an outsider’s point of view. He noticed that the Christians in America would do the exact opposite of what they preached such as claiming to love everyone in one instant and keeping their church segregated at all cost the next. Frank had been a youth pastor in British Guyana where he had been taught to follow what the Bible said without exception. It was a culture shock to not only see how American Christian’s disregarded the Bible in favor of their selfish desires, but also how it fueled racism and discrimination during the Civil Rights Movement.
I enjoyed the anecdotes about his life that are sprinkled throughout the book. It would have been nice to have more details about his family life to help break up the rigorous scientific explanations that cover the majority of the book. The author got so caught up in talking about his professional achievements that he left many plot holes and unanswered questions around his personal life. At the beginning of the book, he had just become engaged to his fiancé before leaving British Guyana so that he would not marry a foreign wife. There aren’t any more details until much later in the book where he mentions his wife and two small children living in America. I was left with many questions such as when did he get married, when did his wife come to America, how was his relationship with his kids and how did he balance raising a family with his educational endeavors. It would have given the book a better perspective on how his personal life affected his career.
This book felt more like an in-depth resume rather than an autobiography. Frank went into extensive detail about many of the technical aspects of his career at the expense of telling his story. It read more like a medical journal with the amount of scientific and medical jargon. For someone who is not well versed on these terms and topics, it was very hard to understand what the author was talking about and follow along with the plot.
I would give this book 3 out of 4 stars due to the number of grammatical errors present throughout the book. The book itself was quite pleasant yet challenging to read. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in autobiographies, civil rights activism, or scientific research papers.
Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream
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