Lorene Cary, who became a freelance writer in the 1980’s, gained prominence in the 1990’s for her autobiography and novels. Education had always been a dominant factor in her life. The daughter of teachers John and Carole (née Hamilton) Cary, Lorene was raised in Philadelphia and one of its suburbs, Yeadon, where she attended public schools.
In the early 1960’s, Cary’s parents decided that their daughter, who was about to enter first grade, should attend the Lea School, where musical instrument lessons, French classes, an individualized reading series, and advanced Saturday morning classes were offered. Although the Carys lived outside the Lea School district, Carole Cary convinced the principal to consider her daughter for admission. After Cary passed an I.Q. test, she was placed in Lea’s top first-grade class. By the time Cary was a teenager, her family had moved to Yeadon.
She transferred from the public high school and spent her junior and senior years at the elite Saint Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, after a friend of the family told her that the formerly all-male, segregated boarding school was offering scholarships to African American girls. She was one of only three or four girls in her classes, and during her first year, all the teachers were men. Her years at Saint Paul’s were successful; she wrote articles for a school publication, was elected senior class vice president, and was the recipient of the Rector’s Award. Cary graduated from Saint Paul’s in 1974. Fourteen years later, she wrote about her days as a Saint Paul’s coed in an article for American Visions.
Cary then expanded the article into her autobiography, Black Ice, her most...
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