In 1873 in the small southern town of Colfax, Louisiana, history tells us there was a riot. The Tademy family knows different. "1873. Wasn't no riot like they say. It was a massacre..." The blacks are newly free, just beginning life under Reconstruction, with all its promises of equity, the right to vote, to own property and, most importantly, to decide their own future as individuals. Federal Government troops are supposed to arrive to protect the rights of the colored people--but they are not yet on the scene.
In one wretched day, white supremacists destroy all the optimism and bright promise by taking Colfax back in an ugly and violent manner. The tragedy begins with the two sides: the white Democrats of Montgomery and the colored and white Republicans of Colfax in the courthouse, finally meeting face to face to discuss their differences. Then, a group of white thugs kills a colored man who was not involved in the courthouse struggle. He was home minding his business and the ugliness came and found him.
The confrontation that follows results in the death of more than 100 black men, killed by white supremacists bent on denying them their voting rights and keeping in office those who uphold the status quo prior to the Civil War. The massacre is only the beginning of Tademy's story. Using reliable sources wherever they may be found, she tells the hard and proud story of Sam Tademy, Israel Smith and their families as they fight their way back from the massacre. They get a foothold in Colfax, finally starting a school, owning land and businesses and becoming full-fledged citizens, as they were meant to be.
Tademy tells part of our history that we would like to forget; she also tells the story of her family, which is a story worth remembering. --Valerie Ryan
From Publishers Weekly
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