Kitty Oliver

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A telling memoir by an exciting new voice, Multicolored Memories of a Black Southern Girl explores journalist Kitty Oliver’s coming of age as she makes the crossing from an all-black to a predominantly white world.

Born and raised in an all-black area of Jacksonville, Florida, Oliver was one of the first African American freshmen to enter the University of Florida. Though she chronicles the strains of her transition from Jim Crow to desegregation, this book is much more than a memoir of the turbulent sixties. It is an upbeat journal of self-discovery in the aftermath of that decade, a look at one woman’s coming to terms with living an integrated life in America. With humor, poignancy, and lyrical language (reminiscent at times of another Florida writer, Zora Neale Hurston), Oliver shares her passage from the “old world” to the new—an immigrant’s journey indicative of the American experience.

Blending past and present, she searches for roots from the Gullah or “Geechee” culture of South Carolina to the urban streets of northern Florida to the multicultural mix of South Florida’s diverse ethnic cultures, serving up family stories with large helpings of southern “folktalk,” food, and music along the way.

Oliver has a vibrant, evocative story to tell. -- Athens Banner-Herald

Captures of personal tumult of coming-of-age in the 1960s with the life-changing movements for civil and women’s rights. -- Booklist

An intimate and captivating portrait of an African-American, female, Floridian, baby-boomer’s life. -- Florida Forum

A complex and multi-layered story, with photographs and art, of coming of age in the Jim Crow South after the Second World War. -- Florida Historical Quarterly

This charming little book is the memoir of Kitty Oliver, one of the first African-American students to attend the desegregated University of Florida in 1965. -- Florida Today

Chronicles the strains of Oliver’s transition from the Jim Crow South to desegregation, but her memoir is also an up-beat journal of self-discovery. -- Jacksonville Free Press

Oliver is a veteran South Florida journalist, and her story, told without rancor, speaks directly to the black female experience of her generation. -- Johnson City Press

A thinking woman’s memoir of a journey with many side trips from a Black girl’s childhood in segregated Jacksonville, Florida, through a coming-of-age reinvention of her self as ‘a product of the civil rights movement, of integration, of all the promises it held’ and back to her origins as an archaeologist of her own past. . . . Written with such poetic sensitivity, with such attention to sensory detail and the cadences of language, that the reader is likely to forget that this delightful field trip is also meant to be educational. -- Judith Ortiz Cofer

A rich, ‘real’ reading—part travelogue, part memoir—tender and thoughtful both. This is a rare and generous memorial of a black girl and the black south. -- Karla Holloway

A beautifully written memoir. . . . filled with rich prose. Oliver, one of 35 African Americans to integrate the University of Florida in 1965, shares her college experiences in Gainesville, traces her Gullah roots in South Carolina, and offers lively stories of her family—all enhanced by large doses of Southern folktales, food, and music. -- Library Journal

Multicolored Memories is funny and the language is entertaining, but more than that, it is real. . . . A story of a woman’s self-discovery and her ability to overcome the obstacles that come from living in integrated America. -- Louisville Defender

Oliver, a self-styled ‘maverick,’ grapples with the complexities of assimilating into mainstream culture. -- Publishers Weekly

This is an enlightening story for all ages—and as good as Maya Angelou’s. -- Rose Shell Reviews

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Kitty Oliver, African Americans, Jacksonville, Florida


African American Studies

Multicolored Memories of a Black Southern Girl
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