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What I appreciate about Joe Allen’s work is that he demonstrates as a historian
the power of informationmeticulous, distilled, coherent, principled.”
John Pilger, author of Freedom Next Time
In a remarkable feat of historical excavation and taut storytelling, Joe Allen tells the incredible story of James Hickman, an African-American man who struck back after a black Chicago slumlord and arsonist decimated his family and nearly destroyed his life. A stark look into a past of big city racism and poverty that we shouldn’t forgetand an important contribution to the history of social justice in America.”
Alex Heard, author of The Eyes of Willie McGee
James Hickman was one of the hundreds of thousands of black Mississippians to move to Chicago in the 1940s. The nightmarish tragedy that befell the Hickman family there, as well as the actions of the dedicated activists who fought to save Hickman’s life by revealing the institutional foundations of that tragedy, are vividly depicted in Joe Allen’s important and moving history. Hickman’s story illustrates the toxic nature of racial segregation and economic exploitation. The outraged community that united to support Hickman is a refreshing reminder of people's power to organize for change.”
Beryl Satter, author of Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America
"[A] remarkable book... Allen tells the story in admirably straightforward fashion...[painting] a horrific portrait of the inhumane conditions in which blacks were forced to live in the post WWII Chicago." Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune
People Wasn’t Made to Burn presents the 1947 Hickman trial in Chicago and its revelations as a metaphor for racial prejudice and its effects on the lives of ordinary people. The book’s story tells of James Hickman’s frustration over his inability to get justice in the arson death of his four children, his subsequent killing of the landlord who was deliberately responsible for the fire, and the efforts of the heroic and conscience-arousing Hickman Defense Committee that enabled him to walk out of court a free man.”
Kenan Heise, author of Chicago Afternoons With Leon
This book is surprisingly inspiring and uplifting for telling the story of such tragedies.
Allen ends his story with a description of a 2010 fire in Cicero, Illinois, which is right outside of Chicago.
The great artist Ben Shahn did a series of drawings about the case, which appear throughout the book.
While in college almost 40 years ago, I took a class from Professor
Tom Kelly. Then he was teaching at Governors State University. Read more
What an Intresting story about my family history and how just was served... I hope this becomes useful to everyonePublished 6 months ago by LATRESHA SAMPLER
In 1947, Black migration to Chicago was inflated by the desperate need for labor in the industries manufacturing equipment for World War Two. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Alan Mills
This book combines both a compelling story and a lesson in how to fight injustice. The two aspects are woven together deftly. Many more people should read this book. Read morePublished 18 months ago by PAUL DAMATO
Great book! I knew the gist of the hickman story for awhile but was very pleased with the depth and vividness of the characters and the situations that joe allen brings to the... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Dan Sharber
This is a real life tale of horror. When you think about how many others went through terrible situations like this in order to better provide for their families, one can only be... Read morePublished on March 5, 2012 by Joan
This book is surprisingly inspiring and uplifting for telling the story of such tragedies. Most true crime/detective novels cast the police as heroes. Read morePublished on November 4, 2011 by John Green