Freedom Road

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Freedom Road
Born on November 11, 1914 in New York City, New York, Howard Melvin Fast was an American writer who typically wrote on history and politics. Not only did Fast publish books under his given name, he also used the pen names ‘E.V. Cunningham’ and ‘Walter Ericson.’ Fast married for the first time in 1937 to Bette Cohen whom he had two children with, Jonathan and Rachel. After Bette’s death in 1994, Fast married a second time in 1999 to Mercedes O’Connor. Fast wrote a variety of works including works of nonfiction, autobiographies, novels, plays, short stories, essays and articles. In 1950 Fast was sentenced to prison for three months for contempt of Congress. Possibly Fast’s most successful novel, Spartacus, was written partly during Fast’s three month sentence in prison. When he was released, he was blacklisted by publishing houses which forced him to have to self-publish his book. By having to do this, he established the Blue Heron Press which allowed to him to not only publish under his own, given name, but as well as the pen names he chose for himself. Fast recently passed on March 12, 2003 in Greenwich, Connecticut at age 88. (wikipedia)

Freedom Road takes place in South Carolina on a plantation called Carwell’s plantation. The main character, a leader among his people, is named Gideon Jackson. Gideon has a wife, Rachel, along with two sons and a daughter: Marcus, Jeff, and Jenny. The book begins with Gideon and a group of men returning to the plantation from the voting. It being 1867, this year was the first time in history that men of color had been allowed to vote. With many color folks being illiterate, most everyone had not a clue what voting actually meant. The men from the Carwell plantation had participated in an event that they had no knowledge of. Gideon, an ignorant man, was the one to explain to the Carwell plantation population about what had taken place. Once he had explained the general notion of voting, everyone dissolved into...
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