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Acclaimed historian Mary Frances Berry resurrects the remarkable story of ex-slave Callie House who, seventy years before the civil-rights movement, demanded reparations for ex-slaves. A widowed Nashville washerwoman and mother of five, House (1861-1928) went on to fight for African American pensions based on those offered to Union soldiers, brilliantly targeting $68 million in taxes on seized rebel cotton and demanding it as repayment for centuries of unpaid labor. Here is the fascinating story of a forgotten civil rights crusader: a woman who emerges as a courageous pioneering activist, a forerunner of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Fascinating. . . . Berry has brought this leader from obscurity and given her cause the recognition it deserves. No one can fully understand the history of the reparations movement without reading this book.” —The Washington Post Book World
“A treat for history lovers. . . .[Berry] paints a vivid picture of the reparations struggle in an era when 2 millions ex-slaves were still alive. . . . Eye-opening, well-crafted.” —The Plain Dealer
“Remarkable. . . . Berry has done a brilliant job of documenting the life of Callie House. . . . This is an incredible story and one that truly deserves to be more than mere footnote in our history texts. . . . Authentic and essential.” —Tucson Citizen