Leonard Pitts Jr. takes a leap of faith and a leap back in time in Freeman’
The day the Civil War ends, Sam, a liberated slave in Philadelphia, decides to walk to Mississippi.
It’s time, he decides, to find his wife, whom he last saw 15 years before. He’s told his decision isn’t practical. He leaves anyway.
Leonard Pitts Jr., author of the historical novel “Freeman,” said Sam is based on the thousands of Americans, black and white, who chose to act on their best intentions after Appomattox.
“If you’re thinking just practically, it’s not the smartest thing to do,” Pitts said. “But taking leaps of faith is what the novel is about.”
To Pitts, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, “Freeman” dramatizes the same period detailed in “Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery,” a 1979 study of Reconstruction by historian Leon Litwack.
That book charted the post-Civil War period that, Pitts believes, remains obscure to many.