What Is a Summary of "Life on the Color Line"?

In "Life on the Color Line," Gregory Howard Williams recounts his experiences growing up thinking he is white, learning he is part-black and struggling to fit in with either race. As an adult, he realizes that his opinion is the only one that matters.

After his white mother leaves him and his family when he is 10, Gregory Howard Williams learns that his father, Tony, is part-black who passes for white. Tony moves Gregory and his brother, Mike, to Muncie, Ind. to stay with relatives, but there, Tony must face that he's ignored his racial identity for most of his life. Driven to drink and unable to care for his children, the boys get passed from relative to relative, but each refuses to care for them. Eventually, their grandmother lets them sleep next to the toilet in her shack, and they do until Miss Dora, a poor black woman, lets them move in with her.

Gregory encounters hostility and prejudice from black and white people. He learns how to survive despite poverty, prejudice and rampant racism. Teachers believe that he is bright and college-bound until they learn that he is "colored." After, most teachers treat him like any other lost cause who can't amount to anything. His classmates treat him just as bad. He is judged for his interest in a white girl and then in a girl who has darker skin than he does. Only after he leaves Muncie to go to college does he begin to find his place along the color line, believing that his struggle taught him how to survive in both.