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The Ditchdigger's Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success Story (Paperback)

The Ditchdigger's Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success Story By Yvonne S. Thornton Cover Image
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As resonant now as it ever was, this inspiring portrait by a loving daughter of a father whose pervasive common sense, folk wisdom, and untutored but right-on insights gave his children their road map to a better life is ready for a new generation of readers.


“But I’m not always gonna be around to look after you, and no man’s gonna come along and offer to take care of you because you ain’t light-skinned. That’s why you gotta be able to look after yourselves. And for that you gotta be smart.”

It was the 1950s, and Donald Thornton’s words to his six daughters weren’t spoken out of despair, but out of the fiercest love. Donald Thornton, a hard-working laborer, had set his heart on an improbable notion: that all his girls would grow up to become doctors. From one of those daughters, Dr. Yvonne Thornton, comes this family biography that is as moving as it is inspiring.

Here is the true story of a determined, wise, and prescient man who dared to dream that his Black daughters would achieve seemingly impossible goals in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Working two full-time jobs—and with the help of his equally remarkable wife, who worked as a cleaning woman—Donald Thornton even formed his bright and talented girls into a rhythm-and-blues band, at the same time ensuring that each one completed her education.

With his common sense and untutored but right-on insights, Donald Thornton gave his daughters the strength to transcend the obstacles of color and gender to fulfill their potential—ultimately guiding them from the tenements of East Harlem to the footlights of the Apollo Theatre—to the halls of an Ivy League medical school.

About the Author

Yvonne S. Thornton, M.D., obtained her medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons with honors. She is director of the Perinatal Diagnostic Testing Center at Morristown, New Jersey, and an associate physician at Rockefeller University Hospital. She lives with her husband and two children in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Praise For…

Priase for Yvonne S. Thornton

“Dr. Thornton’s story shows that a family that stays together, that holds fast to traditional values, can make a quantum leap up the social mobility scale in one generation.” —Wall Street Journal

“Entertaining yet inspiring…a welcome antidote to the many recent books that have shown the underside of growing up black.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

Product Details
ISBN: 9781496739193
ISBN-10: 1496739191
Publisher: Dafina
Publication Date: April 25th, 2023
Pages: 272
Language: English