Forbidden Fruit is a collection of fascinating, largely untold tales of ordinary men and women who faced mobs, bloodhounds, bounty hunters, and bullets to be together—and defy a system that categorized blacks not only as servants, but as property.
In the true love stories of Forbidden Fruit, you will meet sixteen couples who fought for love—love between slaves, between slaves and masters, and between slaves and free black folks. There is the fugitive slave from Virginia who spends seventeen years searching for his wife. A Georgia slave couple that sails for England with federal troops trailing behind. A white woman who falls in love with her deceased husband's slave. A young slave girl who is delivered to her fiancé inside a wooden chest.
Acclaimed journalist Betty DeRamus gleaned these anecdotes from descendants of runaway slave couples, unpublished memoirs, Civil War records, census data, magazines, and dozens of previously untapped sources. This is a book about people pursuing love and achievement in a time of hate and severely limited opportunities. Though not all of the stories in Forbidden Fruit end in triumph, they all celebrate hope, passion, courage, and triumph of the human spirit.
A veteran and award-winning journalist, Betty DeRamus was the jury's pick and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. She has been awarded a Michigan Press Association Award, as well as a Deems Taylor award for a profile of Roberta Flack published in Essence. DeRamus was one of an international group of select journalists who toured Central African refugee camps under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and one of a small group of journalists outside Verster prison in 1990 when Nelson Mandela finally left his cell. She has written about African American history for Essence, LIFE, North Star Journal, and Black World. She is a former commentator for The Detroit News, The Detroit Free Press, The Michigan Chronicle, and the British Broadcasting Company.
"With lucid and poignant prose, Betty DeRamus has tapped a heretofore unknown vein of Black culture: love stories from the Underground Railroad." -- Herb Boyd, author of We Shall Overcome and Pound for Pound
"Haunting, often riveting...always triumphant." -- Essence
"This impressive debut collection awes us with its stories of slave-era couples." -- Kirkus Reviews
"The love stories recounted in Forbidden Fruit are more than a century old. But they still have the power to make listeners' hearts race, break -- or sing." -- The Washington Post