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Recounts the history of African Americans in California during the Gold Rush while focusing on the life and work of Mifflin Gibbs.
Posted May 16, 2011
The book Hurry Freedom by Jerry Stanley is great for working with 6th to 12 grade students. This book would fall under the Informational Books genre and would be especially interesting for history students that are going over controversial issues such as slavery. This book has received the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction. The book speaks about African American forty-niners life and how they were involved during the Gold Rush in California. The author touches deep and well into every detail and characteristic of their life. He speaks volumes about how African Americans were treated, what their expectations were and how they dealt with by their owners. Students can learn that African Americans came to California during the Gold Rush and some became very wealthy after collecting large amounts of gold. It was with this money that most of them would buy their relatives and themselves out of slavery. The book touches on the Underground Railroad, Mifflin Gibbs, Peter Lester, and how a campaign was led to gain equal civil rights for African Americans in California. The book is wonderful it has photographs which allow the reader or students to really go back in time and see what it was like back then.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 16, 2000
If you have a young adult at home, buy this book! Better yet, buy it for yourself, and let the young adult read it when you've finished it. One of only five books nominated for the 2000 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, 'Hurry Freedom' is a great and informative read for everyone, adult or child. The subject is the plight of African Americans in the West¿California in particular¿during and after the 1849 gold rush. Focusing primarily upon the extremely interesting life and experiences of Mifflin Gibbs, in the `40s an acquaintance and sometimes speaking partner of Frederick Douglass, Jerry Stanley tells in some detail of the fate of those few African Americans venturing¿willingly or unwillingly¿into California at the end of that decade. To those of us raised a century and a half after the fact, and especially to us raised in the West, California of the 1840s and 1850s conjures up images of ¿tolerance,¿ ¿freedom,¿ and even ¿abolition.¿ The experiences of Mifflin Gibbs and his contemporaries show what misconceptions these images really are. Instead of ¿tolerance,¿ we read of bigotry as deep as that found in the slave states. ¿Freedom¿ is precarious, even for those born free, such as Gibbs; for others, it is often gained only through a California counterpart to the Underground Railroad. ¿Abolition¿ proves to be more an unattainable concept than a reality, as California¿legally a ¿free¿ state¿again and again refuses to ¿grant¿ any of the fundamental rights of citizenship to its resident, and economically productive, African American population throughout the 1850s. Finally, frustrated by the repeated insults and lack of corrective action on the part of the California legislature, Gibbs and more than two hundred others¿twenty percent of California¿s black population and fifty percent of San Francisco¿s¿emigrated to Canada, where attitudes about tolerance and freedom were a bit more enlightened, and definitely legislated. As a postscript, Stanley notes that Gibbs eventually returned to the United States in 1869, eventually being admitted to the bar, serving as a City Judge and Arkansas Registrar of Lands, and being appointed United States Ambassador to Madegascar. Jerry Stanley is a master writer and storyteller, and ¿Hurry Freedom¿ contains some of his best work to date, told in an appropriate¿but not condescending¿style for young adults. Indeed, as noted above, this book makes interesting adult reading. And the situation of African Americans in antebellum California is Stanley¿s area of expertise (his academic research since his postgraduate days has dealt with this very area), one he covers in this case with well-written prose and an abundance of fascinating photographs. Like ¿Children of the Dust Bowl,¿ ¿Big Annie of Calumet,¿ ¿I Am an American,¿ and ¿Digger¿¿his prior works, frequent book award winners and nominees, and all available on this site¿¿Hurry Freedom¿ is a well constructed expression of Stanley¿s knowledge and love of his topic.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.