By analzying in close detail the lives of six relatively unknown black Americans (James W.C. Pennington, William and Ellen Craft, Robert Campbell, John S. Martin, and William H. Day), Blackett provides a vivid cross-sectional view of the struggle for emancipation and equality in the 19th century. He retrieves these individuals from the footnotes of other studies and gives them the place he proves they merit. Defying the restraints of slavery and discrimination, they demonstrated considerable political and moral leadership. Blackett has mastered an enormous amount of research into black theories, strategies, and tactics. These are not saints’ lives, but complex portraits of men and women about whose challenge to racism we should know.