Water Tossing Boulders: How a Family of Chinese Immigrants Led the First Fight to Desegregate Schools in the Jim Crow South


Product Details

Beacon Press
Publish Date
6.1 X 0.9 X 9.2 inches | 0.95 pounds

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About the Author

Adrienne Berard is an award-winning journalist and graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She has been the Writer-in-Residence at Delta State University in Mississippi and now resides in Williamsburg, Virginia.


"In an engaging bit of social history, Berard rescues a forgotten part of Southern history and brings it to light, offering readers a rare glimpse into Chinese immigrant life and the way segregation affected so many for decades. Flush with telling details and backed by meticulous research, a piece of near-forgotten Chinese-American history is retold."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Surely the most racist Supreme Court decision in the twentieth century, Gong Lum v. Rice has finally found its biographer. Adrienne Berard, who lives about twenty miles from where it all happened, has unearthed fresh facts and brought them to life to tell an important story."
--James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me

"With luminous prose and intricate research, Adrienne Berard has preserved an undeservedly forgotten battle in the struggle for racial equality...In Berard's skilled and supple hands, the past speaks eloquently to our American present."
--Samuel G. Freedman, author of Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights

"The human rights lessons offered up by the American South seem endless, and Adrienne Berard has found a story that further universalizes our national drama of rights pitted against power. The failed landmark desegregation battle of the Chinese-immigrant Lum family--to enable their daughter to attend a white-only school in the Mississippi Delta--might be called forgotten history if it hadn't been virtually invisible in the first place. Which makes Berard's exquisitely lush reconstruction of this liminal world remarkable as well as revelatory."
--Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution

"How could this chapter of history have remained buried for so long? Here is the shocking September day two Chinese American girls are sent home from school; and here, too, is a family's resolute fight to send them back--a fight that is heartbreakingly bungled all the way to the Supreme Court. Gripping, evocative, and packed with irony upon irony, Water Tossing Boulders is a page-turner to boot. Bravo!"
--Gish Jen, author of The Girl at the Baggage Claim: A Tale of Two Selves

"This book about the Lum family's historic challenge before the US Supreme Court is an eloquent--and needed--reminder that the prejudice that drives racism and the courage to resist it know no ethnic boundaries."
--Paula J. Giddings, author of Ida, a Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching