Nancy Chaffin's Reviews > Day of Tears

Day of Tears by Julius Lester
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May 21, 2010

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Read in May, 2010

Emma was a slave on the Butler plantation in Savannah, Georgia in 1859. When Fanny Kemble Butler, the mistress of the plantation left her husband, Emma was given the responsibility to care for the Butler’s two daughters. When the master, Pierce Butler, decided to auction the majority of his slaves to raise funds to pay for his gambling debts, he assured Emma and her parents that she would not be sold. Over 400 slaves were sold in a two day period and, to the anguish of Emma’s family, even Emma was sold in the end. Advertized as the largest slave sale in history, the auction raised over $700,000. In protest of the inhumane treatment Emma and her husband received, they, along with another couple and their baby, decided to flee from their new owners and seek a life of freedom.

This book is written in a personal narrator format and includes narratives from the slaves, the children, and the slave owners. It is based on the largest auction of slaves in American history held on March 2 and 3, 1859 in Savannah, Georgia and it is remembered as “The Weeping Time” because of the incredible rainstorm that occurred during the sale. I liked the book because the narratives were realistic and poignant. I agree with one of the reviewers who said, “it begs to be read aloud.” I think it would be very effective to read from it and then have the class share their feelings, insights, and questions.

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