Arc of Justice
In the book, Arc of Justice, the stage is set in the growing city of Detroit in 1925. The racial tension during this time was extremely high, with the Jim Crow laws and segregation of whites and blacks. The setting is perfect for Ossian Sweet to move into an all-white neighborhood, cause a disruption, and begin a domino-effect of events causing him to have an important part in our nation’s history. The book begins with Ossian and Gladys Sweet, an African-American couple, just buying their first house. This was a common event for many people during this time period, but what was so uncommon about the Sweets’ home was the neighborhood their new house was in. The house on Garland Avenue was on an all-white street, in an all-white neighborhood. Ossian Sweet’s parents were practicing members of the African Methodist Epsicopal Church (a.k.a AME). Ossian grew up with this faith, which encouraged members to go to school and get a higher education. Sweet’s parents followed that and encouraged their son to go on to college, which Ossian did. He moved away from his family in Florida and went to Wilberforce, an all-black college in Ohio, to pursue a career as a doctor. Ossian and Gladys, after getting married, take a year-long trip to Paris. In Paris it is extremely obvious that there are no Jim Crow laws, like there were in the United States. The Sweets’ aren’t looked down upon because of their skin color by Parisians; they are treated like anybody else. “Simple courtesies that in the United States he would never have received: that’s what Ossian remembered from his springtime in Paris.” (132) Returning to the US, to where they would go right back to being treated like inferiors, wasn’t easy for the Sweets’. Yet, Ossian was proud of his line of work and in Paris he had learned much more. He wanted to defy the Jim Crow laws and wanted to be treated like any other doctor, to live where other doctors live. Ossian and...
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