Freedom by any Means
Atria, Feb 2010, $15.00
These fifteen well written true stories focus on courageous individuals trying to either escape from slavery or applying extraordinary methods to enable blacks to escape from slavery. The first entry “The Big Bluff” sets the tome when freeman John Bowley arrives at a Maryland Slave auction to take his family with him as they are up for sale. In “Waters of Hope” slave Arnold Gragston rowed escaping slaves across the Ohio River to safety; others like black barbers Daniel Strawther and Jerry Jones did likewise. Others are equally brave like Nelson Gant who risks his life and freedom for his love of Anna Maria Hughes or putting their money where their mouths were like James Henry Cole and Clara Brown as economics was as big if not bigger roadblock to freedom. Although some of the record is missing requiring Betty DeRamus to speculate, the overall courage is documented. Divided into three sections, this is a winning historical as readers obtain a wider perspective of the risk people took for freedom not just for themselves, but for loved ones and even strangers; summed up in the last entry of “Don’t Call her Mammy” re Mary Ellen Pleasant, the “mother of the civil rights movement in California”.