A new book, “Driving the King” by Ravi Howard, offers a glimpse into the struggles of the early civil rights movement through the eyes of Nat King Cole and his fictitious best friend, Nat Weary. Although the novel is set among the backdrop of real events, such as the Montgomery bus boycotts, the specifics of Mr. Cole’s experiences during the 1950s are admittedly made up. A reviewer in the New York Times points out, “But even this book’s distortions suggest a man whose story remains barely told, while few white singers of his day are without up-to-date biographers.” While Nat King Cole may be lacking the recognition an authentic biography affords, suggesting perhaps the racial barriers he faced in his career and reflected in the novel still linger today, his popularity is hardly forgotten. Timuel Black, an interviewee in The Rosenwald Schools, fondly remembers Nat King Cole as one of the many illustrious African American celebrities who visited the Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments. Cole is pictured in the film along with other Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartment visitors Langston Hughes and Marian Anderson.
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