April 09, 2010
Arc of Justice
In Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, author Kevin Boyle rescues from obscurity a fascinating chapter in American history that had profound implications for the rise of the Civil Rights movement. Boyle opens with a compelling prologue portraying the migration of African-Americans in the 1920s to the industrial cities of the North, where they sought a better life and economic opportunity. This sets the stage for the ordeal of Dr. Ossian Sweet, who moves with his young family to a previously all-white Detroit neighborhood. When the local block association incites a mob to drive Sweet back to the ghetto, he gathers friends and acquaintances to defend his new home with a deadly arsenal. The resulting shooting death of a white man leads to a sensational murder trial, featuring the legendary Clarence Darrow defending Sweet, his family and their associates. Boyle brings immediacy to the social and economic factors that ignited racial violence, provoked the compelling court case, and set in motion the civil rights struggle.