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obtain compensation for its demolition. More than a history ofthe massacre, this book offers a compelling detective story ofhow the tragedy came to light and was reconstructed, especially in the absence of abundant written sources. Like the best detective fiction, though in this case grounded in historical reality, D'Orso's account grips the reader through various twists and turns. To provide just one example , truth becomes stranger than fiction when the author reveals that the daughter of the physician who delivered Arnett Doctor is the chief lobbyist for the law firm handling the Rosewood case. The pair, one black and one white, played together as children but had not seen each other for over thirty years. The book also throws some light on the formation of racial identities in the South, how whites and blacks construct myths to explain their pasts and selectively recall memories to substantiate their versions of history. It testifies to the endurance ofthose memories even when recorded history has neglected them for so long. A skillful journalist, D'Orso weaves together multiple stories in a fashion that respects different and competing perspectives without sacrificing his own point of view. For all his reportorial talents, however, the author leaves unanswered die critical question ofwhy the Rosewood Massacre happened in the first place, though he presents hints of resentment stemming from economic competition and the declining fortunes ofwhites. Nevertheless, D'Orso provides a vivid portrait of the complexity and interconnectedness of race relations in the South. Like a delicate dance between blacks and whites, D'Orso concludes, "some partners are clumsy, some smooth, toes get stepped on, faces are slapped, punches are thrown and guns sometimes pulled. The tune changes but the music never stops." In the end, the Rosewood saga underscores how much southern white and black identities are inextricably and painfully linked. Silver Rights By Constance Curry Algonquin Books, 1 995 258 pp. Cloth, $21.95; paper, $13.00 Reviewed by Robert Coles, Harvard Health Services and the Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University. Reviews 1 07 From tide to last page, Constance Curry's book offers testimony to the ingenuity and resourcefulness, the moral imagination of certain hard-pressed black people in the rural South. These individuals stood up to the overwhelming power of landowners and sheriffs and politicians, enduring slurs and threats and bullets and clubs so that a legacy of forced submission and segregation would at least be confronted, challenged in the courts and in schoolrooms, in voting booths and on college campuses. AU of that, we know, took place in the 1 960s, three decades ago. Yet, what is now history very much needs the substantive kind of telling that this documentary narrative provides: a witness to a hugely important moment in the South and in our nation. "People uninhibited by the conventions of formal education often take unfamiliar expressions and translate them into phrases more meaningful to them," Curry tells us at the beginning ofher book, as she explains its tide. "Often times," she continues, "the new term contains a pleasing or beautiful image. Working as I did with Mississippi families in rural areas, I came to think of what they were fighting for as they did—as their 'silver rights.'" Right off, she asks us to consider the dramatic inventiveness and ingenuity ofmen and women badly down on dieir luck, in constant jeopardy, but able to inspire their educated visitors even on their own (intellectual, literary) terms. I can hear, in that regard, Walker Percy chuckling away at the phrase "silver rights"—exactly what he had in mind when he wrote of"metaphor as mistake": the sharply intuitive, suggestive breakthrough of language that prompts in us a vivid recognition of what we have been missing, no matter our well-educated awareness of a particular word's nature. "Silver rights, silver rights indeed," Curry declares, herself stirred by the infectious ethical resolve, the constant courage and forbearance, of the Carter family of Sunflower County, Mississippi, whose story is this book: Silver Rights recounts the dreams and efforts of one family to get a good education and to join the American mainstream. "Like the metal," says Curry, "the dreams the Carter...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 107-110
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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