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Sarah's Long Walk: How the Free Blacks of…
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Sarah's Long Walk: How the Free Blacks of Boston and their Struggle for…

by Stephen Kendrick

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It's fascinating and a good read, focusing on the case of Sarah Roberts, who was forced to attend an all-Black school in the early 19th century Boston. Her father sued the state for her right to attend a school close to her home and lost. This was the case that Lemuel Shaw (Melville's father in-law) created the concept of "separate but equal" for.

It's an inspirational read with lots to quote from. My favorites are a quote from Emerson and a quote from Robert Morris who was the first Black attorney to win a jury case in the US and the attorney for Sarah.

Morris, who also fought against the Fugitive Slave Law said,

Let us be bold, and they'll have to yield to us. Let us be bold, if any man flies from slavery, and comes among us. When he's reached us, we'll say, he's gone far enough. If any man comes here to New Bedford, and they try to take him away, you telegraph to us in Boston, and we'll come down three hundred strong, and stay with you; and we won't go until he's safe. If he goes back to the south, we'll go with him. And if any man runs away, and comes to Boston, we'll send to you, if necessary, and you may come up to us three hundred strong, if you can -- come men, and women, too.

The Emerson quote is used in the authors' epilogue where they're discussing what has happened since, and how modern schools are just as segregated as they used to be. Eternal vigilance and all that.

You can no more keep out of politics than you can keep out of the frost. And the authors added, "And it is cold out there." ( )
  MFenn | Jan 12, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807050180, Hardcover)

The never-before-told story of the African-American child who started the fight for desegregation in America's public schools

One fall day in 1848, on windswept Beacon Hill in Boston, a five-year-old girl named Sarah Roberts walked past five white schools to attend the poor and densely crowded all-black Abiel Smith School. Incensed that his daughter had been turned away at each white school, Benjamin Roberts resolved to sue the city of Boston on her behalf.

Thus began what would be a more than one-hundred-year struggle that culminated in 1954 with the unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education to desegregate America's schools. Today, few have heard of the Roberts case or of the black abolitionist printer whose love for his daughter started it all, but now, with Sarah's Long Walk, readers can learn about one black community's heroic struggle for equality.

Sarah's Long Walk recovers the stories of white and black Boston; of Beacon Hill in the nineteenth century; of twenty-four-year-old Robert Morris, the black lawyer who tried the case; and of all the people who participated in this early struggle to desegregate Boston's schools.

Stephen Kendrick and his son, Paul, have told Sarah's story—previously a mere footnote in the history books—with color and imagination, bringing out the human side of this very important struggle. Sarah's Long Walk is popular history at its best.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:40 -0400)

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Beacon Press

An edition of this book was published by Beacon Press.

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