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AfriGeneas Writers Forum

"Arc of Justice" by Kevin Boyle

I have always been curious about the struggle people must have had who migrated from the rural south to the north during the 1920s. Just finished watching an interview with the author, Kevin Boyle, who wrote about an incident that occurred during that period in "Arc of Justice". The interview and the reviews of the book have made it a "must buy" for me. I have included the url for additional reviews and a portion of one review of the book on Amazon.com below:

"In the afterward to his brilliant and captivating "Arc of Justice," the story of a pivotal but largely forgotten incident in America's Civil Rights movement in 1925 Detroit, historian Kevin Boyle writes that segregation is so "deeply entrenched" in this country that it can't be uprooted. Even today, he writes, black and white neighborhoods across the United States are "separated by enduring discriminatory practices, racial fears and hatreds, and the casual acceptance by too many people that there is no problem to address."

It's a stunning statement to many, no doubt, yet surprising in its obliqueness: a century of lynchings and race riots following the Civil War are over, having taken a full hundred years to slow to a crawl and then die. But many vestiges of discrimination remain. Because the practice has continued, many of us give no pause to the one singular thriving aspect the black/white conflict, that of racial segregation in our cities and towns. Residential segregation continues to go unchecked because, from the comfort of our living rooms and our front porches, we continue to proudly (but blindly) proclaim that - as some citizens of Detroit in 1925 proclaimed - we harbor no prejudices.

Boyle's meticulous research delves into that problem - the intersection of prejudice and the marketplace and the role that force plays in maintaining the color line, particularly with respect to restrictive covenants in real estate - by examining the story of Ossian and Gladys Sweet, a black doctor and his wife who purchased a home in a white neighborhood in Detroit in the simmering summer of 1925. The second night in their new residence, some 600 men, women and children ignored the presence of a half-dozen policemen there to protect the Sweets and began to barrage the two-story house with stones, shattering its windows and walls and the fragile psyche of the frightened Sweets and the eight friends there to help protect them from the onslaught they knew was coming.
Before the night was over, shots were fired from the Sweets' new residence. One neighbor was killed and another wounded."........


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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