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Day of Tears by Julius Lester


Next Book Club Meeting: Thursday, August 9 @ 12pm-1pm & 6pm-7pm

This discussion has been created to allow the readers of TheProgression Book Club to share thoughts on “Day of Tear” by Julius Lester. Below, I have listed 3 topics that I would love for each of you to share your detailed opinions on. Feel free answer all 3 topics or just the options you prefer. Thank you!

1.) The author makes it clear to us that Emma and Pierce Butler’s daughters were very close. At times, Frances is referred to as being like her father while Sarah is compared to her mother. [A] What do you think about Frances attitude, at first, towards Emma when Emma is sold to another owner? [B] How would you have reacted if you were Emma, and Pierce Butler were trying to hand you a silver dollar as you left the plantation? [C] Lastly, do you think Frances was wrong for wanting to follow her fathers footsteps as a plantation owner? Why?

2.) At the Henfield plantation, readers were introduced to Sampson. Sampson was completely comfortable with his position in slavery because of what he experienced in Alabama at a previous plantation. [A] Why do you think Sampson is wrong/right for wanting to avoid freedom and work for Mistress Henfield? [B] In order for the family to make it out of the barn, there was a serious conflict between Charles and his father Sampson where he had to punch him. What other options, if any, did Charles have that night that could have had a better result in your opinion? [C] When the baby died in the rain, Winnie placed the blame on Charles and Charles blamed Joe. Do you think losing your child is a sacrifice you would pay for your family’s freedom?

3.) The author never revealed what happened to the parents of Emma. Slavery separated so many families in its time. [A] What would you have done if someone tried to sell your daughter to another family? [B] When Joe and Emma relieved they needed a first and last name they decided to name themselves after Mr.Henry. Was that a good idea? What would you have named yourself? [C] At the end of the book Emma tells her granddaughter about how Joe went to fight in the war and never returned. Forgetting all the other torment and sorrow Emma has been through in her life, could you have died a peaceful death knowing your husband/wife was a casualty to the war for your freedom?

4.) What is the ONE most valuable idea, statement, virtue, history lesson or lifeskill you took from this book?


For topic 2:
[A]: I believe Sampson believed in survival. He did not know anything but the good side of slavery and the bed side of slavery. He felt safe where he was so he chose to remain in a world where he knew he could survive. He did not know of a better world.
[B]: I believe Charles could have explained to Sampson why he didn’t want his child to grow in slavery. How he believed that freedom is the best choice for his family. But honestly from the authors descriptions, Sampson doesn’t seem like the type of character to listen to anyone else’s beliefs. So I don’t think there was any other option but violence. Maybe not punching him, but maybe a shove instead.
[C]: If I knew my child would have died during an escape for its life I would not have left or better yet I would have left on a better day. I don’t think I would sacrifice my child for freedom. If we can’t all go then what’s the point?


I think losing my child is a sacrifice I would take for my families freedom because I could have another child even though losing one is very heart breaking but atleast this time when you have more they’ll be free and so will their children’s children. So ultimately yes, I think it’s worth it.