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Hurry Freedom: 05/14/10

cover art

My library maintains a shelf of featured nonfiction at the front of the children's wing. The topic changes periodically. When it was highlighting the diversity of California's history, I chose Hurry Freedom by Jerry Stanley.

The California Gold Rush brought in hordes of people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Hurry Freedom looks at the African American experience. The men and women who came were a mixture of slaves and free blacks. In California slavery was illegal but enforcement was lax. It was up to the slave to escape first.

Regardless of how a person came to California, there was the dangled carrot of opportunity. Most people who came to California didn't become wealthy and many ended up going home with only the clothes on their backs. Hurry Freedom has biographies of some of the rare success stories.

The book also covers the political atmosphere in California as the infant state struggled to take sides in the slavery issue. There were those who wanted to side with the slave owners and those who didn't. There were others who helped run California's very own underground railroad, something I didn't know we'd had here.

The book is short, only 96 pages, and densely packed with facts, dates and photographs. It is a good introduction to a fascinating piece of California history that I hope to read more about in greater depth.

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