Lawrence Otis Graham was born on December 25, 1961 in Manhattan to real estate developer Richard Graham and social worker Betty (Walker) Graham. His family soon moved to the Mount Vernon suburb, north of New York City. They moved further north to the White Plains in 1967 – the same year, as Mr Graham later noted, starred in the film Guess Who’s Over for Dinner, in which a white woman introduces her supposedly liberal parents to her new black fiancé from Sidney Poitier, was published.
Mr. Graham’s parents had their own problems with supposedly liberal whites: it took them months to find a home in White Plains, and many salespeople refused to work with them. When they finally found one, they had to pay a 25 percent premium, and even then several of their future neighbors banded together to try to buy the house preventively instead.
When he was 10, Mr Graham recalled, he went to a swimming pool with his brother and several white friends. But when he jumped into the water, his friends’ parents rushed to pull them out.
Over time, however, Mr. Graham found his way into white society through personal success, playing tennis in high school and writing a column with his mother for a local newspaper.
As a student at Princeton, he wrote three books, all college guides, and three more about getting started as a student at Harvard Law School.
During his law studies he met Pamela Thomas; They married in 1992 and later settled in Chappaqua, NY. The two were often admired as a power couple in the black community: she was the first black woman to partner with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, wrote three detective novels, and now sits on a number of corporate boards.