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By Thomas F. Liotti
Book Review columns.
Arc of Justice
A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, And Murder in the Jazz Age
By Kevin Boyle
Holt Paperbacks (2005)
Reviewed by Thomas F. Liotti
Professor Kevin Boyle of Ohio State University has published a widely acclaimed book, but one whose significance has been overlooked by the legal profession. This review is an attempt to instigate interest in the book at least among lawyers and judges. It is a book concerning our nation’s treatment of freed slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War, but it concentrates specifically on the city of Detroit and the 1925 People v. Sweet murder case. The defendant was represented by Clarence Darrow and other legal luminaries.
In 1925, Dr. Ossian Sweet and his family moved into a white neighborhood in Detroit. “Motor City” was a popular settlement for both the KKK and new immigrants. It was a city that celebrated the Jazz Age while ignoring Prohibition. When a mob of 500 to 1,000 whites gathered outside the home of the Sweets and began throwing rocks at it
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