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marlene lopez

Patrick Phillips is an award-winning poet, translator, and professor. A Guggenheim and NEA Fellow, his most recent book, Elegy for a Broken Machine, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Phillips teaches at Drew University. His latest book, Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (W. W. Norton & Company), uncovers a history of racial terrorism that continues to shape America in the twenty-first century. Forsyth County, Georgia, was once home to a large thriving African American community. In September, 1912, three young black laborers were accused of raping and murdering a white girl. Soon after, bands of white “night riders” launched a campaign of arson and terror, driving all 1,098 black citizens out of the county. The charred ruins of homes and churches disappeared into the weeds, until the people of black Forsyth were forgotten. Phillips traces Forsyth’s history of racial violence all the way back to antebellum Georgia and  sheds light on the violent means by which locals kept Forsyth “all white” well into the 1990s. Blood at the Root is a sweeping American tale that spans the Cherokee removals of the 1830s, the promise of Reconstruction, and the injustice of Forsyth’s racial cleansing.