Synopses & Reviews
A thoughtful investigation into the incredible true story of a Black man convicted and exiled under the Oregon Exclusion Law in 1851 — and a contemporary White woman wrestling with racism and faith after learning she's a descendant of two men who assisted in the exile.
"A beautiful rendering of an ugly history. A worthy read." —Chant Griffin, advocate, journalist, and author
Moving back to the outskirts of Portland, called the "Whitest city in America," prompted Sarah's curiosity about the colonization of the West, her ancestors, and the legal exile of a Black man. She examined four city leaders involved in Jacob Vanderpool's case — Oregon City's founder, the case judge, Jacob's accuser, and a local pastor — and the cultural and theological fallout of their decisions. Along the way, Sarah took a hard look at her tendencies, unconscious and deliberate, to ignore the possibility of prejudice in her heart.
Vanderpool's case proved a fascinating lens on a far bigger story than one trial, illuminating truths to help us all come to honest terms with our past, learn to repent, and contribute to the good of the people and places around us.
Journey through this sensitive expedition into the events that remain a thorn under America's skin and discover afresh the vast potential of the flawed but endlessly redeemable — human heart.
"Through her own story, written in beautiful prose, Sarah demonstrates that we do not live in an historical vacuum. On the contrary, the specters of American history will only be laid to rest when we acknowledge their presence in the past and present." Marlena Graves, author of The Way Up Is Down: Becoming Yourself by Forgetting Yourself
"Sarah has done a beautiful job in weaving painful historical moments and her faith in a way that invites you in and causes you to think." Robert Monson, enfleshed co-director, writer, and theologian
About the Author
Sarah L. Sanderson holds a master of fine arts in creative nonfiction from Seattle Pacific University, a master's in teaching from Seattle University, and a bachelor of English and philosophy from Wheaton College. For the past eight years, she and her family — including her husband, their four children, her brother, and the family's two dogs — have made their home in Oregon. These days, her pursuits include writing, speaking, teaching creative writing, learning to pray, and building a beloved community.