Red River by Lalita Tademy tells the tragic story of the massacre of
over 100 black men in Colfax Louisiana in 1873.
White supremacists slaughtered them for trying to have a voice in the
politics fo their community and control of their futures. Tademey’s work is historical ficition at its
best, based on her own family. It is
ultimately an uplifting story. No matter
how much humiliation, unfairness, and downright danger they endured, the
characters always kept up a belief in themselves, a sense of integrity, and a conviction that
with education they would ultimately achieve a better future. Sometimes
heartbreaking, and sometimes humorous, it is the story of a family Tademy can
be proud to call her own.
Spring/Summer '09 Reading Group List
“Lalita Tademy weaves the stories of two families in the years following the Civil War into a compelling narrative bristling with distinctive voices.”
— Warren Wegner, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
For the newly-freed black residents of Colfax, Louisiana, the beginning of Reconstruction promised them the right to vote, own property-and at last control their own lives. Tademy saw a chance to start a school for his children and neighbors. His friend Israel Smith was determined to start a community business and gain economic freedom. But in the space of a day, marauding whites would "take back" Colfax in one of the deadliest cases of racial violence in the South. In the bitter aftermath, Sam and Israel's fight to recover and build their dreams will draw on the best they and their families have to give-and the worst they couldn't have foreseen. Sam's hidden resilience will make him an unexpected leader, even as it puts his conscience and life on the line. Israel finds ironic success-and the bitterest of betrayals. And their greatest challenge will be to pass on to their sons and grandsons a proud heritage never forgotten-and the strength to meet the demands of the past and future in their own unique ways. An unforgettable achievement, a history brought to vibrant life through one of the most memorable families in fiction, Red River is about fathers and sons, husbands and wives-and the hopeful, heartbreaking choices we all must make to claim the legacy that is ours.