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Dawn of Desegregation: J. A. De Laine and Briggs v. Elliott Hardcover – May 15, 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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An inspirational biography of an unsung civil rights champion from South Carolina

About the Author

Ophelia De Laine Gona, formerly a medical school professor, is retired from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. In addition to scientific publications, Gona's previous writings include articles about her father and the Briggs lawsuit.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press; First Edition edition (May 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570039801
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570039805
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dawn of Desegregation is an intensely powerful and important biographically based book that provides important insights into the history of the desegregation of America's schools. Written by the daughter of one of the key figures in the struggle, it fills a void in the story of the struggle for racial equality. Few know of Reverend J.A. De Laine and of the heroic people in Summerton, South Carolina, who signed their names to the legal petitions at great risk to their personal and family welfare. Most students of U.S. history learn only of the Brown decision and of the most visible leaders like Martin Luther King. Reverend De Laine deserves to be remembered and acknowledged, as is indicated by the Congressional Gold Medal which he posthumously received. From this time on, Dawn of Desegregation helps to ensure that he will be.
Ophelia De Laine Gona has gathered the personal notes of her father into a clear narrative that dramatically unfolds into a story of depth and drama. The undertaking must have been exhausting, for she dealt with the task of telling the definitive account of the events which culminated in the abolition of the "separate but equal" myth which had condemned generations of African-Americans to inferior schooling.
The book reads very well and does not get bogged down in miniscule details. The chapters make the history come alive, composed with the passion of one who lived through the events. The writing style is often vividly descriptive with lines such as: "The shell of the burned out sanctuary bore ghastly witness to the reign of hate" (p. 186). De Laine Gona has put a very human face on this historical narrative. Her chapter "Armageddon" truly captures the terror that her father and her family experienced.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ophelia De Laine Gona's "Dawn of Desegregation: J. A. De Laine and Briggs v. Elliott" is an arresting account of how courage and inspirational leadership led to desegregation of schools in the United States of America. I normally read several books at the same time, but once I started reading this important American story I could not put it down. It reminded me of my experience reading Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers", the best book I had read in the last decade. Ophelia Gona places the reader at the center of events in segregated South Carolina and her grip seems never to be released until the Epilogue updates the outcomes for Rev. De Laine, her inspiring father, and his undaunted neighbors.

Much has been written about civil rights struggles in the USA, and the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v Board of Education is legendary. However, this book richly brings to life the way in which that outcome had a great deal to do with the courage and tenacity of good people, many Black and a few White, who fought for civil rights and overcame the bigotry and violence of white supremacists in the Southern USA. This is a quintessential American story of an important struggle to make a more perfect union as anticipated by the framers of the US Constitution. It needs to be read by Americans of all ages and races.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very good book of facts. I am a witness to some of the things in it. I know the family of Revern J.A. DeLaine. My mother was one of the Petitioners mentioned in the book. I also had two Uncles mentioned in the book and I know most of the Petitioners mentioned in the book.

You've got to read it. It is such a good book that once you start reading it, it is very hard to stop.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Truth and Justice for all people.

If you read this book and your heart and soul is not touched by it, then I say that there is something wrong and you do not have a conscience at all.

Buy it. You will not regret it.

Joseph Richburg,
Sumter, SC
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Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully written account of one man's mission and its successful outcome - the ruling of the Supreme Court in May 1954 that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal... segregation is a denial of the equal protection of the law..." - which ultimately led to the desegregation of American schools.

Packed with factual information, this important and moving story should have a place in every school. Reading it, I felt as if I knew the author's father and had nothing but admiration for him and his wife, and all of their neighbors and friends who risked their lives to challenge the shameful practices of discrimination and segregation.

Told with no hint of anger or enmity, this story offers wonderful insight into the thoughts and lives of all those who participated in changing the course of American history. It is a truly special book.
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