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David McBride, Penn State Historian, to Speak on Family History

(Posted February 9, 2009)

David McBride, professor of African-American history at Penn State University

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- David McBride, professor of African-American history at Penn State University, will discuss his life growing up with 11 siblings and being raised by a white, Jewish mother, as well as the experience of having some of that early life chronicled in his brother James McBride's best-selling memoir "The Color of Water" at Juniata College at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 18 in Sill Boardroom in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The talk is free and open to the public. The talk is sponsored by Juniata's student club, the African-American Student Alliance.

McBride will talk about his own experiences growing up in a mixed-race family and reflect on his younger brother's book.

"The Color of Water" is focused on Ruth McBride, who was a rabbi's daughter, born in Poland and raised in the South. She left the South to move to Harlem and married Andrew McBride, an African-American minister. She remarried after McBride's early death. Ruth would have 12 children, raise them during the 1960s, and put all of them through college.

James McBride's memoir alternates the story of his mother with chapters on his own life and how he coped with own his ethnic and religious background.

David McBride will illuminate "The Color of Water" further by sharing his perceptions of the book and showing his personal collection of family photos.

The historian also will lead a discussion on whether the struggle his family went through is different than what African-Americans experience today.

David McBride specializes in the history of African American health issues and teaches courses at Penn State on African-American history, health issues for minority Americans and African-American families. He wrote "Missions for Science: U.S. Technology and Medicine in America's African World." He is a co-author of "Crosscurrents: African-Americans, Africa and Germany in the Modern World."

He earned a bachelor's degree from Denison University, and went on to earn a master's degree and doctoral degree in history from Columbia University.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.