Sarah's Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston and how Their Struggle for Equality Changed America

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Beacon Press, 2004 - History - 300 pages
The never-before-told story of the African-American child who started the fight for desegregation in America's public schoolsIn 1847, on windswept Beacon Hill in Boston, a five-year-old girl named Sarah Roberts was forced to walk past five white schools to attend the poor and densely crowded black school. Incensed that his daughter had been turned away at each white school, her father, Benjamin, sued the city of Boston on her behalf. He turned to twenty-four-year-old Robert Morris, the first black attorney ever to win a jury case in America. Together with young Brahmin lawyer Charles Sumner, this legal team forged a powerful argument against school desegregation that has reverberated down through American history, in a direct legal line to Brown v. Board of Education. When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against Sarah Roberts, Chief Justice Shaw created the concept of "separate but equal," an idea that affected every aspect of American life until it was overturned one hundred years later by Thurgood Marshall.Today, few have heard of the Roberts case or of the three thousand free blacks in Boston who fought valiantly and successfully-long before the civil rights movement of the 1960s-to integrate schools, theaters, and railway cars; to legalize interracial marriage; and to form the first black army regiment. Now, Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick tell the inspiring story of the remarkable activist community of which Sarah and her family were a part, bringing to light the human side of this crucial struggle. Sarah's Long Walk recovers stories of black and white Boston, of Beacon Hill in the nineteenth century, and of all the concerned citizens, both white and black, who participated in the early struggles for equal rights. The result is a rich historical tapestry, a fascinating story of the courage and conviction of ordinary people who achieved extraordinary things.

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SARAH'S LONG WALK: The Free Blacks of Boston and How Their Struggle for Equality Changed America

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Examination of a little-known civil-rights lawsuit brought in 1848 that, although rebuffed, anticipated the desegregation victory in Brown v. Board of Education more than a century later.The Sarah ... Read full review


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About the author (2004)

Stephen Kendrick is the author of "Holy Clues: The Gospel According to Sherlock Holmes". He is the Parish Minister of the Universalist Church of West Hartford, Connecticut, where he lives.

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