Uncovering Black Heroes

Lesser-Known Stories of Liberty and Civil Rights

by David Boers (Author)
©2017 Textbook XII, 128 Pages
Series: Counterpoints Primers, Volume 37


Uncovering Black Heroes: Lesser-Known Stories of Liberty and Civil Rights is a series of stories regarding real people who are not so well known in the mainstream of American freedom and civil rights discussions. These people have made a difference by the events of their lives and by the deliberate contributions they made. In some chapters depictions of fugitive slaves create awareness of the perils of freedom runs and of the desperate, dangerous, and terrifying life of being a hunted person. In other chapters the degree of local level blockage individuals needed to confront is exposed. Still other chapters point out major efforts by diligent, but for the most part unknown, local people that result in court case settlements and state laws to advance civil rights, in particular suffrage. One chapter takes a close look at leaders in women’s clubs and how those leaders defined women’s roles in the Black freedom and civil rights movements. Themes stand out as they all build upon each other and are seen from one chapter to the next. In the end, a subtle evolution of ideas can be realized that forms the notion that the great and recognized Black leaders in history have their important place but that freedom and civil rights advancements are made on the backs of the local unknowns who need to be recognized for what they have contributed. This uncovering of unknown players involved in crucial events of their times in the quest for social, political, civil, and personal equality and freedom provides a unique perspective somewhat counter to mainstream thinking.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Dedication
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Why Are These Stories Important to Tell?
  • Chapter 1: St. Louis to Detroit
  • Chapter 2: Releasing Joshua Glover: Wisconsin’s Response to Popular Sovereignty, States’ Rights, and the Fugitive Slave Law
  • Chapter 3: The Birth of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs
  • Chapter 4: Uncovering Ezekiel Gillespie: African American Male Suffrage
  • Chapter 5: Milwaukee Movers: James Groppi/Vel Phillips
  • Chapter 6: Attorney for the Plaintiffs: Desegregating Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Conclusion: What Have We Learned About Uncovering Lesser-Known Heroes?
  • Selected Court Decisions Regarding Discrimination Based on Ethnicity
  • Selected Court Decisions Regarding Discrimination Based on Gender
  • Series index

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What is revealed in this book is the linkage between vastly unknown local events and personal actions and the recognized civil rights movements and leaders that are known widely on a national level. While events on a national scale trudge forward with diligence and courageous struggle so do lesser-known events that connect, feed into, and form the foundation of a national movement. The manuscript attempts to form the concept that national leaders made their gains only with the help of local agency. The essays/stories laid out as chapters in this book are real-life examples of the local backbone that helped the national efforts stand tall. Though usually with networks of support behind them, these local freedom fighters had much to lose and small chance of gain but they struck out in the dream of a better and more equal land. It is when their stories are brought to light that it becomes clear that national leaders were not acting alone and that local efforts were in play across the nation directly and indirectly in support of those who were more readily recognized.

The chapters presented should bring about a curiosity as to what history is present within the reader’s locale and how that history connected with the greater movements for civil/social rights. This book will provide questions as to how local politics and social norms impacted the attempts by oppressed ← ix | x → populations to gain a social, economic, and political foothold. From this, readers should begin to question the plights of local freedom fighters and their oppositional forces. They should thus then investigate how the opposition was faced and what the results of that were. The book should connect readers to more than just national movements and leaders; indeed, readers should become much more aware of how it takes more than a few national leaders to make a movement work and that without the courage and sacrifice of those not yet listed in history books progress toward social justice and equality might not have occurred. The chapters themselves are distinctive and unique in the depth of personal/historical detail of the events surrounding the actions of these particular courageous players in the quest for equality.

Other features of the book include higher-order discussion questions meant to foster critical thinking and to challenge readers to deeper levels of analysis both on historical and personal/emotional levels so that a deeper/wider perspective of the larger picture of equality could be considered. Also, topics for further study are included to link the reading to other areas of pertinent study. A glossary for each chapter is included.

What is offered is an academic look at some of the more subtle attempts and the lesser-known stories of freedom struggles and civil rights activism. As discussed earlier, a revealing of local activists who parlayed local activities into the dreams of the national movement should become evident. Through their very personal and precious struggles and immense sacrifices, they made differences in the freedom movement. The stories detail the results of the actions of these people and form a perspective of how progress was made over time in an area smaller than the national spectrum but equally if not more important.

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I would like to thank Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. for the opportunity to once again share a book worldwide. All of the editors and various people who have been a part of this publication have been marvelously helpful and most gracious as we all worked together through the process. Special thanks to editors Sarah Bode, Shirley Steinberg, Jackie Pavlovic, and Tim Swenarton who guided me through the substantial number of materials necessary for publication and very specially to Dr. Farideh Koohi-Kamali, Senior Vice President of Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. for her initial communications, direct access, and encouragement. Authors are treated with kindly respect and dignity by Peter Lang.

I would also like to thank Marian University for the support it has given me regarding this project. Through the years, Marian has opened the world for me in too many ways to share here. I appreciate that and am thankful for the opportunities. Special thanks to my colleagues in the School of Education, who all have been my mentors either knowingly or not. Clearly, they have helped to inspire any successes I have had. My time with them is exceedingly valuable.

And as always, thanks to my family. Lovely Linda, my wife and best friend for 38 years, has been a constant bright light in my life. She is incredibly ← xi | xii → uplifting and the strongest person I have ever met. Along with Linda, by far the greatest joy of my life has been raising and knowing our children. I thank Gabe for his steady, strong-willed, and forever advancing spirit about life. He always comes through for everyone. I thank Nancy, cherished daughter-in-law, for her heart of gold and a serious approach to living and loving. And I thank Lucy, the daughter who just never stops, for the way she attacks her life and always goes for the gusto. She can be found almost anywhere doing almost anything. Finally, thanks to Eli, everybody’s favorite grandchild, for being the beautiful little guy he is. He helps keep us all connected. By the way these special people lead their lives I can be free to lead mine. I thank them for their independence and my freedom.

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XII, 128
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (July)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XII, 128 pp.

Biographical notes

David Boers (Author)

David Boers is a Professor of Doctoral Studies in the School of Education at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He has published eight books and dozens of articles regarding education, educational history, and disadvantaged populations. In addition, he has delivered hundreds of presentations across the nation at local, state, and national conferences, workshops, and staff development programs. Dr. Boers is passionate about engaging in critical discourse regarding social justice, the human condition, and related areas of existential thinking.


Title: Uncovering Black Heroes