Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age / Edition 1

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age / Edition 1

3.7 20
by Kevin Boyle
     
 

In the Roaring Twenties, neon lit the night, jazz played, and in northern cities glistening new sky-scrapers beckoned Negroes worn down by southern terrors. They came with battered bags and hope. Ossian Sweet was among them, carrying his parents' dreams for his future and little else. The grandson of a slave, the young physician arrived alone in Detroit -- a smoky… See more details below

Overview

In the Roaring Twenties, neon lit the night, jazz played, and in northern cities glistening new sky-scrapers beckoned Negroes worn down by southern terrors. They came with battered bags and hope. Ossian Sweet was among them, carrying his parents' dreams for his future and little else. The grandson of a slave, the young physician arrived alone in Detroit -- a smoky swirl of speakeasies and sprawling factories where progress and Henry Ford had pumped competition to fever pitch. As Sweet moved beneath the glittering chandeliers of Michigan Central Station, he had no inkling of what awaited him in Detroit. He could not have known that he would establish a thriving practice and find a wife to love. He would not have dared to imagine that one day he would be able to move his family from the city's most dangerous ghetto to a home of their own in a safer place. Nor could he have envisioned that his struggle to hold on to this home, his greatest pride, would lead to his indictment in a murder case that would put him and his wife in prison, bring the famous Clarence Darrow to defend them, and launch a landmark battle that helped ignite the struggle for civil rights.

Beginning with the hot summer night in 1925 when Sweet's outraged white neighbors circled his house to drive his family out, Arc of Justice is grand nonfiction storytelling -- an epic canvas of dreams deferred and justice compromised, empowered by a triumphant spirit. Historian Kevin Boyle uses the story of Sweet, caught in the grip of history, to explore America in 1925, when the Klan moved north to incite hatred, and a new organization called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) -- led by W. E. B. Du Bois and his Talented Tenth -- rallied blacks to raise their voices and to begin the march toward equality, dignity, and self-respect. Boyle captures the streets of Detroit as they were, introducing a gallery of characters from both the white and black communities. He pulls us into the riot that threatened the Sweets' home and the events -- following a white neighbor's shooting -- that led to the couple's indictments for murder and the ensuing highly politicized police investigation. Using testimonies, court documents, and his own extensive research, Boyle moves from prosecutors to defenders, piecing together the citywide cover-up intended to convict and punish the Sweets, while simultaneously charting the NAACP's defense campaign.

With the opening of the Sweets' trial and the appearance of legal genius Darrow -- whose theatrics and fiery passion made him a ferocious defender of the oppressed -- Boyle's narrative becomes courtroom drama at its finest. Capturing the tense, often surprising legal battle, Boyle takes us through the intricate face-offs between the wily Darrow and the adept, utterly determined prosecutors, re-creating the scenes that drew the attention of all Americans to the plight of Doctor Sweet and his wife. A moving story that brings together the realities of a city, a nation, and a time, Arc of Justice is a stunning achievement and an unforgettable human document.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805071450
Publisher:
Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/28/2004
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
5.92(w) x 9.96(h) x 1.55(d)

Table of Contents

Prologue: America: 19251
1Where Death Waits13
2Ain't no Slavery no More44
3Migration70
4Uplift me, Pride102
5White Houses133
6The Letter of Your Law170
7Freedmen, Sons of God, Americans197
8The Prodigal Son229
9Prejudice260
10Judgment Day300
Epilogue: Requiescam337
Notes347
Acknowledgments397
Index403

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