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Olivia's Story:The Conspiracy of Heroes behind Shelley v. Kraemer

Olivia's Story:The Conspiracy of Heroes behind Shelley v. Kraemer
1.25 lbs



Date Available

Appendix , Photos
$19.95 (19.95)
"Olivia's Story is an enthralling historical chronicle that is as captivating as it is enlightening. Highly recommended, especially for public and college library collections." --Midwest Book Review

The story behind the landmark 1948 Supreme Court decision, Shelley v. Kraemer, which struck down racially-based housing restrictions and opened the door to fair housing regulations in the United States, told through the voice of an African-American teacher, one of the participants.

Many battles have been fought through the years to gain dignity, justice and equality for all in America. Few of those battles have had the lasting significance and impact of the one described in the telling of Olivia’s Story. Olivia Merriweather Perkins joined a brave group of people in St. Louis, Missouri who came together, without regard to their personal safety and well-being, to fight for rights that had been denied to people of color, the right to property. Their sacrifices eventually led to "Shelley vs Kraemer," one of the most important legal battles of modern times, the impact of which was felt in every corner of America. This legal case changed the face of a nation, not only in housing but also in other area taken for granted today. The story behind the case shows the power of dreams and how these dreams can come true if people are willing to fight for them.

All major events of Olivia's Story are true. The details were gathered from archives, records centers, letters, and legal documents of the period. However, as important as these materials were, they did not present enough of the humanity inside the story. The human side was collected through visits to and interviews with many of the principle characters presented in the book, along with their children and other relatives, all of whom provided rich details of one of the alternately darkest and brightest periods in American history. These individuals included Margaret Bush Wilson and others who had personal knowledge of the events of that time and who worked through their lives to protect the liberties clarified through that famous court battle.

" Olivia’s Story is just that: a very personal narrative for which only the most gifted writer could find words. Mrs. Olivia Perkins was a quiet woman at the center of a history-making event, the challenge to restrictive covenants that led the way to fair and open housing not just in St. Louis but for all of America. Jeffrey S. Copeland uses her character and experiences to personalize the emotional and psychological elements of this struggle, a veritable second chapter to her life which for others might have closed with the death of her war-hero husband.

Great leaders have had their dreams, and brave figures have fought the good fight for civil rights and liberties. But it is the story of an individual like Olivia Perkins that tells the truth by putting the love and the sorrow, the suffering and the joy into 'true' but otherwise distant events."--Jerome Klinkowitz, author of Kurt Vonnegut’s America

"Olivia's Story recounts race fights and arson and how those involved risked their lives to stand up for their beliefs." --St. Louis Post-Dispatch "
One of life’s enriching pleasures is getting to know someone who lived in a different time and place than oneself. In Inman’s War, Olivia Merriweather Perkins charmed me with her humor, wit, and the love she shared with her husband. Readers left wanting to know more about this extraordinary woman will be charmed, gladdened, saddened, and at times outraged while reading Jeff Copeland’s new book, Olivia’s Story. Olivia’s effervescent personality is as strong as ever, but now we get to know more of her personal strengths: her generosity, her courage, and her deep belief in justice. Olivia was one of a group of people who challenged St. Louis’ status quo of 'whites only' neighborhoods. Many readers will be shocked to learn that covenants preventing people from selling their homes to people of African heritage were included in property deeds. Olivia risked her life when she agreed to help the Shelley family buy a home in a whites-only neighborhood.

Readers will delight in Olivia. Her visit to the botanical garden, where she finds herself at a lecture with the Daughters of Dixie Club—all white and dressed in hoop skirts—is laugh out loud funny. But the blatant prejudice of the situation sets a cutting edge to the humor. However, Olivia’s acerbic wit stymies all attempts at intimidation.

Copeland puts the reader squarely on the frontlines of the fight for civil equality. There’s a heart-pounding scene where a rogue white policeman assaults Olivia in her home late at night. Again refusing to be a victim, Olivia shrewdly turns the tables, with an unexpected response to the media.

The book culminates with a riveting courtroom trial, worthy of the best Law and Order episodes. The testimony is filled with plenty of tension, but Copeland infuses the courtroom scenes with sarcastic humor that points up how unjust, how ludicrous, society can be.

Olivia Merriweather Perkins was a force to be reckoned with. She was a tower of strength in her community, an outstanding teacher—in school and out of it—and a person whose intelligence and generosity enriched the lives of countless people. Although she passed away in 1995, she was, and still is, a person whose story will enrich all who meet her."
--Sally M. Walker, author Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland

"Jeff Copeland has once again given us a story of ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary deeds with courage and determination. Olivia's Story shows what can be achieved by quiet heroes willing to risk emotional and financial losses, as well as danger to their own personal safety and physical well-being. Olivia is an inspiration to us all!"

--Jan Dundon, Anderson's Bookshops, Naperville, Illinois

Video of Shelly v. Kramer based on Olivia's Story.

Lexile score 770

Watch a St. Louis news story about the book

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