It’s a risky approach, combining memoir and oral history in a single narrative that often jumps about in time, but for the most part it works quite well ... The Last Negroes at Harvard captures remarkable changes in these men’s perceptions of themselves, of Harvard, and of the white world to whom Harvard introduced many of them (including Garrett) over the brief four years in which they were students. It’s a testament to the success of Garrett and Ellsworth’s 10-year oral history project that The Last Negroes at Harvard is as much the story of [Garrett's black classmates] as Kent Garrett himself ... an accomplished work of collective autobiography that tells a compelling story of incipient transformation in a transformative time—but in a place seemingly impervious to disruption.
Garrett’s memoir offers an instructive peek at a Harvard that has been transformed ... One hopes that the intellectual environment of Harvard today is more fascinating than the one that hardly makes an appearance in Garrett’s memoir. He discusses no class that left an impression him, no book to which he was introduced, no idea that grabbed him, no teacher with whom he was enthralled. He describes excitedly a dinner that he and some classmates shared with Malcolm X. He says that on account of that meeting, 'something shifted inside my young mind and soul.' Perhaps so. But I would more confidently credit the claim if it was substantiated by some contemporaneous evidence ... What many would see as a remarkable stroke of good fortune is eclipsed in Garrett’s telling by the recrudescence of fears and frustrations that he had briefly consigned to the past.