Boyle's Arc Of Justice

1197 Words5 Pages
“Arc of Justice” recounts the momentous trail of Ossian Sweet, a successful African American doctor, who dared to breach the color line in Detroit. Through meticulous research and historical evidence, Boyle exposes how racism and prejudice influenced the housing market in maintaining the color line that still largely exists today. Boyle wonderfully captures the moment when the Northern system of segregation was created and uses the largely forgotten trial as frame of reference for the greater injustices felt across the country. The climax of the story begins the night after the Ossian Sweet moved him and his family from Black bottom, a Detroit ghetto, to a bungalow located in a white, middle-class neighborhood. Angered by Sweets arrival, the…show more content…
When Sweet opens the door to let his friends in, he sees “the scene he’d dreaded all his life, the moment when he stood facing a sea of white faces made grotesque by unreasoned, unrestrained hate — for his race, for his people, for him”(Boyle). The police officers assigned to guard the house, made no move to stop the mob. As the mob pressed closer, they began to shower the house with stones, shattering its windows and walls. But Sweet was prepared for this moment. In the not-too-distant past, his colleagues had moved into white neighborhoods and had had to face similar, murderous mobs. In an act of self-defense, someone inside the house shot out into the street, wounding one white man and killing another. The all the adults in the house, including Sweet’s wife, were taken to jail and charged with first-degree murder. "Arc of Justice" is the story of that night and its aftermath, particularly focusing on the trial of the Sweets and their eight companions on the charge of…show more content…
One way Boyle engages the reader is through the narrative, personal style in which he writes his book. Historical documents can sometimes be intricate and frankly borjing but in this telling, the reader is able to connect to history in a preosnal way to better understand the conflicts this nation experienced. When he was not following Ossian directly, he pulls back his narrative lens and usually gives a history of the country at large to emphasize why things were the way they were, like explaining defense lawyer Clarence Darrow impressive professional career. This unique structuring kept me engaged but also informed of social context which gave a deeper understanding of the account when he returned back to Ossian’s perspective. I believe this is the books greatest strength. It is equal parts history lesson, biography, and courtroom drama. The author’s lucid prose proves that top-notch scholarship doesn’t come at the expense of readability. If the book has a weakness, it is that Boyle never questions the defense’s version of events. He dismisses the prosecution’s case that there was no mob attacking the Sweets and the two men shot were innocent passersby. Which I understand becasue “Arc of Justice” isn’t primarily a book about a murder case. its’s clear Boyle is far more interested in a larger story, about how the actions of a few individuals collided with local politics, a national civil rights movement and the concerns of a polyglot immigrant class sparked change for the

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