The Doctorate 1957-1962
This novel relates the life of Thomas Tims also known as Big T between 1957 and 1962. At the beginning of this period, he acquired a Bachelor of Science degree from a small southern African American college. At the end, he began his first professional position after obtaining a PhD degree from the University of Minnesota in Nuclear Physics. The novel begins at Thomas' college graduation, where we learn that during his four years at college he did not sever ties with his low class background, which many at his college, students and faculty, looked upon with varying degrees of concern. They noted his disregard for social norms and his sexual licentiousness and feared that they might lead to his ruin in addition to tarnishing the reputation of his alma mater. Nevertheless, in the Fall after his graduation, he entered the University of Minnesota Graduate School in Physics with a strong belief in the American dream and in his eventual success. However, it became evident that his fellow physics students, who mostly came from prestigious northern colleges were better prepared than he and their social culture was different from his. He was besieged with loneliness and fears that maybe he was inferior, morally and intellectually, to his white colleagues. Partially out of desperation he married an African American girl, with whom he separated while she was pregnant for a white mistress, Barbara Goodbody. During Thomas' stay at Minnesota, a vigorous debate was taking place in the United States on the position of African Americans in the country. Thomas entered this debate with other African Americans. The African Americans on campus were divided among those who were for complete assimilation of African Americans in the existing American society, others who sought both assimilation and a revolutionary improved American society and others who wanted complete separation of the two groups including division of the territory. Questions of current interracial relationships along with assorted difficulties of African Americans matriculating in predominantly white institutions were frequently discussed. When Thomas was close to graduation and looking for employment, it became clear to him, that having a white companion or wife would severely limit their opportunities. After suffering a serious frustration crisis, he made an extraordinary gesture to prove his love for Barbara then left her.
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