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8. Horace R. Cayton, Jr., Long Old Road: An Autobiograph

The son of Horace Cayton, Sr., Horace Cayton, Jr., (1903-1970) carved out his own distinguished career as a writer and activist. After a childhood in Seattle’s leading black household (described in part in the accompanying excerpt), Horace Cayton, Jr., held numerous jobs; coped with society’s disapproval of his taking a white wife; earned his B.A. as one of three black students at the University of Washington; studied sociology in the distinguished graduate program at the University of Chicago; taught at the Tuskegee Institute and Fisk University; and studied race and labor in the United States as journalist, academic, government official, and labor and civil-rights organizer. He spent little time in Seattle after graduating from the University of Washington.

Cayton’s autobiography Long Old Road captures the twists and turns of his eventful life. For example, Cayton initially expressed skepticism about organized labor because so many unions discriminated against blacks. Eventually, though, he came to champion unionization as an important path to better treatment for blacks.  Similarly, years after a teenage prank landed Cayton in reform school, he was appointed deputy for the King County Sheriff by the Republican administration.  Still later he worked for the Democratic New Deal administration. Horace Cayton, Jr., found himself on both sides of numerous divides, and his autobiography offers a multitude of perspectives on blacks in twentieth-century America.

See: Horace R. Cayton, Jr., Long Old Road: An Autobiography (1963; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1970).

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