They are men whose lives began in slavery, who weathered the Civil War, and who grappled with the contradictions of emancipation through the turbulent years of Reconstruction. Portraying the lives of the families who dwell in The Bottom, a poor settlement just down Red River from Colfax, Louisiana, Tademy begins her story with a heart-wrenching battle for the Colfax courthouse. Newly freed men are fighting for their liberties, hoping the federal government will come to their aid. As tensions rise, a massacre ensues, and proud families are left to deal with the wreckage and find the strength to push on. Drawn from both historic fact and the author's own family history, Tademy brings to life a historical human drama left untold--until now.
Tademy also manages to straddle the line between glorifying her ancestors and humanizing them. The Tademys of Colfax not only survived the oppression and brutality of post-Reconstruction America, but they prospered, confronting racism, accumulating land and building the first colored school so that the local black children might build themselves better lives. Lalita Tademy has every right to be proud.