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June 11, 1995|CHARLES SOLOMON

COLORED PEOPLE: A Memoir by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Vintage: $11; 216 pp). In this lively account of growing up in the African-American section of a small West Virginia town during the '50s and '60s, Gates describes a community in the truest sense of word. The people he knew shared pleasures, sorrows, interests, resources and scandals. The limits of Piedmont were largely imposed from without, yet people thrived there. Although he never questions the benefits of the Civil Rights movement, Gates notes that the elimination of segregation in America was achieved at a cost: "Only later did I come to realize that for many of the colored people in Piedmont--and for a lot of the older ones in particular--integration was experienced as a loss. The warmth and nurturance of the womblike colored world was slowly and inevitably disappearing. . . ."

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