Back to All Posts

Summer Read: Justice Arcs Through Greenhills

arc coverOver the summer Upper School faculty and students have been reading Kevin Boyle’s book Arc of Justice (2004), the harrowing tale of the trial of Dr. Ossian Sweet, who tried to integrate an all-white neighborhood in the segregated Detroit of the 1920s.

And next Friday, those students will have an opportunity to ask the author questions in person, because he’ll be speaking in the Campbell Center Sept. 13 at 9:25 a.m.

Boyle grew up in Detroit and now teaches at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The book, a muscular history that reads like a novel and won a National Book Award, has garnered widespread praise and is used in classes around the country.

Boyle tells the story of Sweet and his family as they attempted to buy a house in a white neighborhood in Detroit in 1925. Violence followed and famous attorney Clarence Darrow came to the Motor City in an effort to defend them.

The book opens to readers the dark underside of dynamic Detroit. However, it also encourages us to think about the broader American picture in that decade, the debates over modernism and diversity, for instance.

In the summer of 1925 Darrow had defended John Scopes in the “monkey trial” in Dayton TN; and, as Boyle shows us, the KKK, dedicated to 100% Americanism, was powerful in Detroit and Michigan. Finally, Arc of Justice encourages us to think about the current situation of Detroit, a subject Boyle has also written about.

The book assignment program is being supported by an online collection of documents and essays that will be available to all. Teachers will be using the book and its supporting materials in a variety of ways during the year.

And everyone is invited to hear Boyle talk in the Campbell Center on Sept. 13.  After his lecture, he’ll spend the day visiting classes. An exciting way to start the school year!

— by Bruce Zellers, 12th Grade Principal

Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.