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The Force of a Feather: The Search for a Lost Story of Slavery and Freedom

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2002-03-14
  • Publisher: Univ of Utah Pr
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In the Late 1980s, author DeEtta Demaratus happened upon a story that wouldn't leave her alone. She had been intending to write an article about Biddy Mason, a former slave who, at the time of her death in 1891, had become a well-known philanthropist and one of the wealthiest African American women in California. But at an exhibit honoring Biddy, Demaratus inexplicably knew that the documented history about Biddy was inaccurate and should be corrected. "I came to believe, " she says, "that an exchange was made between me and the past, that an invitation was extended." The Force of a Feather is the result of that invitation.

Demaratus's quest to find out the truth about Biddy Mason led her on a decade-long journey. Over the years, her research took her again and again to California, then to Utah, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. Biddy's story introduced her to Hannah, another slave in the household, Biddy's and Hannah's twelve children, and to slave owners Robert and Rebecca Mays Smith. It also introduced her to Benjamin Ignatius Hayes, an eloquent and

Author Biography

DeEtta Demaratus's writing credits include plays and published articles on history and art as well as screenwriting work for Paramount Pictures. She lives in Seattle

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Acknowledgments xi
Introduction: Coming to the Wall 1(12)
The Dream
White Woman Running
The Writ
Meeting Mississippi
The Verdict
Getting to the Right State
The Promise
Five Codas
The Letter
Epilogue: Coming to Rest 197(14)
Appendix 211(6)
Notes 217(12)
Bibliography 229

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