Sign up for our literacy platform for free for reading at home

On the Laps of Gods: The Red Summer of 1919 and the Struggle for Justice That Remade a Nation

Authors: Whitaker, Robert
Publisher: Crown
BISAC/Subject: HIS036060, SOC031000, POL004000
ISBN: 9780307409164, Related ISBNs: 0307339823, 0307339831, 0307409163, 9780307339829, 9780307339836
Classification: Non-Fiction
Number of pages: 400,
Audience: General/trade
Synopsis: They shot them down like rabbits . . .

September 30, 1919. The United States teetered on the edge of a racial civil war. During the previous three months, racial fighting had erupted in twenty-five cities. And deep in the Arkansas Delta, black sharecroppers were meeting in a humble wooden church, forming a union and making plans to sue their white landowners, who for years had cheated them out of their fair share of the cotton crop. A car pulled up outside the church . . .
What happened next has long been shrouded in controversy.

In this heartbreaking but ultimately triumphant story of courage and will, journalist Robert Whitaker carefully documents—and exposes—one of the worst racial massacres in American history. Over the course of several days, posses and federal troops gunned down more than one hundred men, women, and children.

But that is just the beginning of this astonishing story. White authorities also arrested more than three hundred black farmers, and in trials that lasted only a few hours, all-white juries sentenced twelve of the union leaders to die in the electric chair. One of the juries returned a death verdict after two minutes of deliberation.

All hope seemed lost, and then an extraordinary lawyer from Little Rock stepped forward: Scipio Africanus Jones. Jones, who’d been born a slave, joined forces with the NAACP to mount an appeal in which he argued that his clients’ constitutional rights to a fair trial had been violated. Never before had the U.S. Supreme Court set aside a criminal verdict in a state court because the proceedings had been unfair, so the state of Arkansas, confident of victory, had a carpenter build coffins for the men.

We all know the names of the many legendary heroes that emerged from the civil rights movement: Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr. among them. Whitaker’s important book commemorates a legal struggle, Moore v. Dempsey, that paved the way for that later remaking of our country, and tells too of a man, Scipio Africanus Jones, whose name surely deserves to be known by all Americans.
Sign up for our literacy platform for reading at home

LightSail includes up to 6,000 high interest, Lexile aligned book titles with every student subscription. Other titles are available for individual purchase.

Watch the power of

Lightsail in action

×

SUPPORT GROWING READERS

Immediately Engage Students
Immediately Engage Students
Simple intuitive design has classrooms reading within minutes.
Exponentially Grow Reading Time
Exponentially Grow Reading Time
Students love the LightSail experience and naturally spend more time reading.
Accelerate Literacy Development
Accelerate Literacy Development
Students reading 25 minutes a day on LightSail are seeing 2+ years of Lexile growth in a single year.

LightSail Education is a comprehensive Lexile and standards-aligned, literacy platform and digital e-book library. Including multimodal learning functionality and featuring books from leading publishers, LightSail holistically assesses and nurtures each student on their reading and writing-to-learn journey, throughout elementary, middle, and high school.

*LightSail offers a 2,000 or a 6,000 title bundle with its student subscriptions. Other titles are available for individual purchase.