Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne

Reflects on African American History

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
36 Pages
Reviewed on 06/25/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite

Those who have not experienced discrimination have hardly any idea of what it means. However, reading the stories of people who have faced it certainly helps to empathize with them. This is what happens to anyone who reads Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne: Reflects on African American History, written by Velma Osborne herself. Born in Harlem in 1946, Osborne did not grow up with a positive image of herself. In addition to being an African American girl when her people had yet to start the civil rights movement, Osborne also had a spinal problem that gradually prevented her from working. Due to these unfavorable conditions, Osborne had strived for a long time to find her way through life. Little by little, she reversed her condition, and how she did it is told in her book.

Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne is a short but uplifting journey into the author's life. Although Osborne started from unfavorable conditions, she made it. Her story is not only the account of an existence made difficult by discrimination and low self-esteem. It is the heartfelt account of a person determined to improve her situation and who succeeded. If the first part of Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne saddened me for what the author had to go through, in the second part I admired her for the example of resilience and determination she gives to us readers. For these reasons, I recommend Osborne's book to anyone who wants to enrich their life with illuminating examples of brave people.

Daniel D Staats

Velma F. Osborne was born in the Bronx. She has written Autobiography of Velma F. Osborne to highlight her life and the various struggles she encountered. Her father had a respectable job and after a few years became a schoolteacher. Velma grew up in a strict Christian family and was shielded from many of the negative influences found in any poor section of any town. She had a physical issue that led to her being very shy. She had difficulty socializing and that was made even worse by her physical limitations. But this is not a book of “woe is me.” Velma speaks as one who has triumphed over hurdles that would stop a weaker person or someone who does not have the spiritual strength to depend on the Lord.

Through a series of events, Velma F. Osborne ended up being single and pregnant. In her book, Autobiography of Velma F. Osborne, Velma gives credit to her mother for turning her life around and keeping her out of the major problems many of her friends ended up having. Years later, God brought a godly man into her life, and they fell in love. Later, they married and have jointly ministered as chosen of the Father. God brought Velma through the valley so she can now walk the valley with others as a guide and companion. She shares encouragement and hope because she is living proof that growing up in a rough neighborhood does not doom one to failure. Velma writes in a conversational style that shows she is speaking from a heart full of compassion.

Pikasho Deka

Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne is a self-narrated memoir written by Velma Osborne in which she tells the story of her life. Velma is a second-generation American with ancestral roots in Barbados, West Indies. Growing up in a strict Christian household, Velma regularly attended the St. Episcopal Church in Harlem. Due to the Jim Crow laws of the time, Velma -- a black girl -- grew up studying in segregated schools. This caused the development of an inferiority complex in Velma until the Civil Rights movement in the '60s when Dr. Martin Luther King inspired her to rediscover her sense of self-pride. Remembering her father's advice, she completes her Bachelor's and Master's education but struggles to hold on to a job until her later years due to her spinal scoliosis.

Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne is an inspiring memoir of a woman who overcomes racial prejudice and physical disability to carve out a happy and successful life for herself and her loved ones through sheer perseverance and willpower. Osborne writes in an easily accessible style that is captivating and quickly immerses you in her story. The book is short but each page is filled with times from Velma's life that shaped her into becoming the woman she eventually becomes. It is easy to feel for the people affected by the draconian laws of segregation. Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne also makes you appreciate the times we live in and wonder how much work remains undone to achieve a fair and equal society. Highly recommended.

Edith Wairimu

Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne: Reflects on African American History by Velma Osborne is a brief and powerful biography about growing and overcoming personal and societal issues as a second-generation American Black woman. Osborne was born in 1946 and grew up in Harlem, New York. Her parents instilled discipline and hard work in their children. Her father worked hard during the day while attending college at night. Concerned with tokenism and by the few numbers of Black people who worked in professional positions, he insisted that all his children should acquire an education. Osborne suffered from mild scoliosis that went undiagnosed and which resulted in her being unfairly compared with her older sister. Her condition coupled with living in a run-down house robbed her of self-esteem. She also grew up in a racially segregated society that had low expectations of Black children, which worsened her negative self-image.

Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne is inspiring as it follows Velma Osborne’s story and highlights her achievements. Her accomplishments show that through diligence and self-confidence people can change their circumstances and not fall victim to the low expectations of society and people around them. The book also follows her uplifting spiritual journey and the impact her faith has had on her life. Her ministry work, her work with the homeless and the lonely in society, and her outreach program that she founded with her husband are also inspiring. The work highlights the negative and positive impact key people had on her life during her childhood and adult years. These experiences contain important insight into parenting and handling relationships. Throughout her life, Osborne faced other challenges in her relationships, parenting, and physical health but through her faith, the experiences made her empathetic and stronger. Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne by Velma Osborne is a profound work with lessons in compassion, faith, racism, gender bias, and various personal challenges.

Joe Wisinski

Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne: Reflects on African American History by Velma Osborne is the life story of a woman who achieved the American dream. She was raised in Harlem in New York City in the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s. Due to both her surroundings and her personal situation, including a physical problem, she developed a poor self-image. However, she overcame her circumstances and is now a happy and successful woman. She never became addicted to drugs, as so many others in that time and place did. Osborne credits God for enabling her to successfully overcome the tough situation she was born into. She also says her father urged her to get an education as the key to becoming successful. Some of the book outlines her work in Christian ministry.

I enjoyed reading Velma Osborne’s Autobiography of Dr. Velma Osborne: Reflects on African American History. Even though I’ve read a fair amount about life in the New York City tenements before, it was interesting to learn more through Osborne’s book. And it was inspiring to read about someone overcoming dire circumstances and achieving economic and social mobility. Osborne wrote candidly about the plague of racism and how that also influenced her self-esteem. It was encouraging to read about how the civil rights movement of the 1960s helped her overcome the racist rhetoric of the time. Osborne is not the only person who overcame life in the New York City tenements, but it was heartening to read her story. She said she wrote her book as a motivation for others and she has succeeded in reaching that goal.