In 1911, William Pickens published the first edition of his autobiography, The Heir of Slaves, in which he writes about the importance of his education and recounts the experiences that led him into public life. The narrative discusses his family, the various teachers and mentors who helped guide him, and the incidents and methods by which he accomplished so much. Pickens's later works increasingly demanded the rights of full citizenship for African Americans. Bursting Bonds (1923), the second edition of his autobiography, clearly demonstrates this development by the inclusion of five new chapters on racial tensions. This important work, now back in print, marks a turning point in the evolution of African American autobiography from defence to confrontation.
William L. Andrews is E. Maynard Adams Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
“This is a reprint of the second, extended edition from 1923 of the autobiography of Professor William Pickens, a leading member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Pickens, whose parents were liberated slaves, studied classics at Yale, became a professor at Talladega College in Alabama, and was involved in the NAACP from its inception in 1910.” —International Review of Social History