The Rains by Sulayman Clark About Dr. Clark Media Resources Store Contact Information
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A Timely and Long-Awaited Novel
                           The courageous battle for the soul of a nation…
                                                         … the unrelenting quest for a greater America.

“Clark has found his calling as a wonderful storyteller,
using the medium of the historical novel.”

Charles V. Willie, Harvard University

The Rains is a fictionalized historical novel inspired by true events and the heroism of a remarkable inter-faith and multi-racial group of men and women. The story begins in the turbulent context of antebellum Philadelphia when the city was a hotbed for the abolitionist movement and a major crossroads for the Underground Railroad. Most of the novel’s characters were real life “free persons of color” who formed a dynamic coalition of social activists who fought to eradicate slavery as a socially accepted and legalized practice. In defiance of the law and at great personal risk, these activists sacrificed life and limb to help fugitive slaves escape from bondage and resettle in the northern states and Canada.

For the most part, the novel’s time frame covers the antebellum period (1840-1860), the Civil War years (1861-1865) and the Reconstruction era (1865-1877). It encompasses a tumultuous period that historian Lerone Bennett has aptly described as “the generation of crisis” During this stretch of time, the volatile and irrepressible debate over slavery intensified and ultimately led to a bloody civil war. At the conclusion of the war, Philadelphia and the nation as a whole had to heal deep ideological and sectional wounds. In addition, the city had to adjust to the sweeping transformations of industrialization and urbanization and the steady influx of European immigrants in pursuit of the American dream. Philadelphia like so many other urban centers became a thriving social “melting pot” and experienced the stresses and strains of assimilating and educating a culturally and racially diverse citizenry.

Intercultural tensions andracial hostilities proliferated and led to constant social turmoil and recurring violence. It was a time when responsible political, educational and religious leadership was sorely needed. It was then that a courageous group of leaders and committed activists stepped to the fore (and hold “center stage” in the novel.). These protagonists boldly confronted widespread ignorance, corruption and apathy at every turn. They faced great danger and many obstacles, but nonetheless, forcefully advocated for full citizenship rights and expanded educational opportunities during the chaotic post-war period.

This is the social and historical context of the story that unfolds in The Rains. Philadelphia is a city in great transition and its civic leadership and the populace at large must find a way to peacefully coexist or continue to be plagued with major social upheavals. Simultaneously, the abolitionists create one of the most important social movements in the history of America. After the Civil War, the nation reforms itself and Philadelphia begins to mirror the evolution of American democracy and the formation of far-reaching socio-economic policy in the second half of the nineteenth century. Thus, The Rains is by no means a localized story. The story reflects how conscientious citizens throughout the young nation struggled to uphold the lofty principles of American freedom and democracy during a time of great danger and calamity. On a deeper level, the story highlights how they came together in common cause to express the fullness of their humanity at a time when human compassion and a commitment to “justice for all” were in short supply.

In essence, The Rains is an uplifting tale about the battle for the soul of a nation and a remembrance of an unrelenting quest for a greater America.

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