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The Force Of A Feather - Book

The Force Of A Feather - Book

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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 embattled district judge, born in the South, who presided over the controversial habeas corpus trial in Los Angeles to determine the legal status of Biddy, Hannah, and their children -- a full year before the Dred Scott case was settled in the U. S. Supreme Court.

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