I just finished reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (free on Kindle!). Wow, what a book especially knowing it's place in history, the fact that it brought awareness about the slave trade in the US and is credited as an influence towards the Civil War. It was the most purchased book of the 1800's after the B1ble! I learned things I was never taught in History at school. The high school that I graduated from was probably 60% African American and to think I really hadn't been properly educated about what their ancestors had gone through. I wish I'd read this back then.
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated a month before I was born so I missed out on most of the Civil Rights Movement in the US, too. Even my high school friends' parents had been through a lot that I didn't really know at the time as well.
The book had a few overly long speeches in places but was powerfully moving in others, a great story inspired by real life events that the author knew of. The chapter directly from the author at the end of the book was one of the most passionate speeches that I've ever read. Here's just a fragment:
"The Writer has given only a faint shadow, a dim picture, of the anguish and despair that are, at this very moment, riving thousands of hearts, shattering thousands of families, and driving a helpless and sensitive race to frenzy and despair....... Nothing of tragedy can be written, can be spoken, can be conceived, that equals the frightful reality of scenes daily and hourly acting on our shores...."
I wonder what it would have been like to read this book at the time! Probably not very comfortable.......
As I read it reminded me of the slavery that takes place not far from where I live. That, too, is something that the people of this city don't want to talk about as well as the occasional person in our homelands. They don't really want to know. It's just not comfortable.
Because once you know, then you're responsible to respond.