Friday, 24 March 2017

"Blood at the Root": a book which "blew my mind away" - it's a tale of the perennial American tragedy.

One day when I was aged about fourteen or fifteen I was at the home of my good friend Stephen Meyer.   His parents had gotten out of Germany "just in time"  in 1939.

I was browsing through one of their books and came across a picture of z cremation oven in a Concentration Camp.    I could not bear to look at it, and I slammed the book shut.

I was tempted to do the same when coming upon grainy black and white pictures of public lynchings in a book I read last week.

The Book is "Blood at the Root", by Patrick Phillips  (published by W R Norton and Co in 2016).

"Blood at the Root"is the harrowing take of the ethnic cleansing of Forsyth County, GA, where, in 1912,  all Negroes  (the word of that era)  were slaughtered, or driven out with great violence, often with the blessing of the white Church Pastors.

Despite  Federal Civil Rights legislation,  Forsyth County was proud to be a "Whites Only" County as recently  as 1987.

It's a book that fills me with anger and sadness.

I am sad because professing Christians encouraged and supported this ethnic cleaning back in 1912,  and in the "whites only" policies of the late 1980's;  ...

....and because even in 2017 we have so called White Nationalists closer than close to the centres of power at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500.

When any group is singled out for hatred, slaughter, unfair imprisonment, legal or unofficial discrimination it never leads to any good.

Bad things are happening to many ethnic, religious or minority groups in so many countries.  The world is dripping in blood, from Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, through South Sudan, to Myanmar.

We of the western democratic (?) and "Christian heritage" countries like to think that we are better than that.  Of course that is not true. 

The harrowing and horrendous events recorded in "Blood at the Root" make me sick to the stomach. And it could happen again.



A gripping tale of racial cleansing in Forsyth County, Georgia, and a harrowing testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America.
Forsyth County, Georgia, at the turn of the twentieth century was home to a large African American community that included ministers and teachers, farmers and field hands, tradesmen, servants, and children. Many black residents were poor sharecroppers, but others owned their own farms and the land on which they’d founded the county’s thriving black churches.
But then in September of 1912, three young black laborers were accused of raping and murdering a white girl. One man was dragged from a jail cell and lynched on the town square, two teenagers were hung after a one-day trial, and soon bands of white “night riders” launched a coordinated campaign of arson and terror, driving all 1,098 black citizens out of the county. In the wake of the expulsions, whites harvested the crops and took over the livestock of their former neighbors, and quietly laid claim to “abandoned” land. The charred ruins of homes and churches disappeared into the weeds, until the people and places of black Forsyth were forgotten.
National Book Award finalist Patrick Phillips tells Forsyth’s tragic story in vivid detail and traces its long history of racial violence all the way back to antebellum Georgia. Recalling his own childhood in the 1970s and ’80s, Phillips sheds light on the communal crimes of his hometown and the violent means by which locals kept Forsyth “all white” well into the 1990s.
Blood at the Root is a sweeping American tale that spans the Cherokee removals of the 1830s, the hope and promise of Reconstruction, and the crushing injustice of Forsyth’s racial cleansing. With bold storytelling and lyrical prose, Phillips breaks a century-long silence and uncovers a history of racial terrorism that continues to shape America in the twenty-first century.



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