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 21st century.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Bailey on 06-03-18
when is white history month?
I just finished the book, "Blood at the Root - A Racial Cleansing in America" by Patrick Phillips. It's the history of events in Forsyth County, Georgia, in 1912.
In September of that year, a young and beautiful white woman was found brutally beaten and raped. A young black man was arrested, then lynched in the town square, based on the evidence that he lived nearby and had been seen in the area where the woman was found. Not satisfied with the lynching, 2 more teenagers were arrested and convicted and executed at a public hanging enjoyed by more than 5000 of Forsyth County's citizens who came for the day with their children and picnic baskets.
Not satisfied with the lynching and executions, the white citizens of Forsyth County set about a series of "night rides", shootings, burnings and bombings, intent on driving Forsyth County's 1100 black residents out of the county.
Not content with driving the blacks out, whites then quietly absorbed the land and property of the 1100 mostly farmers who had been forced to leave.
For the next several decades, this pattern of violence was repeated again and again whenever any unaware black person happened to wander into the county. In 1987, when a civil rights march was planned to remember the 75th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Forsyth County, white citizens once again erupted in a riot of violence and hatred.
Today, Forsyth County has a small black population, and larger Latino and Asian communities, and has become an affluent, peaceful suburb of Atlanta. In the town square there's still a statue of local Confederate hero and adamant white supremacist, Hiram Parks Bell. There's no memorial to the hundreds of poor blacks who were beaten, raped, burned, lynched, and driven out in the decades after Hiram Bell's war, no real memorial to the real history of the county.
And of course, this wasn't an isolated event. Similar racial cleansing took place all over the country. The pattern is always the same - a crime, a scapegoat, mob violence, expulsion, then finally, possession of land and property.
Last month I saw a meme in a Facebook post from a friend of a friend with the tagline "100% white, 100% proud". The text of the meme was the question, "when is white history month?"
White history month is every month. And I've got your history right here.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Cheryl L. Lessin on 10-01-17
must read -
must read - especially with trump. ascension. Helps clarify the social base for fascism in this country. its up to us to stop it
3 of 4 people found this review helpful