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The Tragedy Of Ossian Sweet Essay

2402 words - 10 pages

Although the trial of People v. Sweet was a clear legal victory for Ossian, his wife, his friends and all others involved in the defense, the story as a whole was a heart wrenching and grim calamity for the Sweets. Not to mention the NAACP’s failed initiative to champion the case in hopes that it would foreshadow a bigger, nation-wide residential segregation victory in the Supreme Court and maybe even a civil rights movement. After Henry’s acquittal none of the men spent day in jail for the night of September 9th 1925 but both trials didn’t have the effect the NAACP planned and ended playing an insignificant role in the big picture of residential segregation and minority rights as a whole. After the trial of Henry Sweet, Robert Toms announced the end of the trials, People v. Sweet would never see another day in court. However much relief it was to hear that, it was small victory compared to the permanent damage the trials inflicted on the lives of the defendants, especially Ossian Sweet.
After their Europe trip, by the time they were looking for a house to buy, Ossian and Gladys were both cultured and sophisticated1. Gladys through her upbringing and Ossian through his extensive education and his choice of profession as a doctor were in a higher societal bracket than most if not all of the residents in their prospective neighborhood of their newly purchased house. To Gladys this level of sophistication was not something sought after, it just happened to be an inherent quality of hers as a result of her family background. However for Ossian it was more than a conscious thought to him it was a goal; to look more mature, better educated and overall well-off. It even dictated the way he dressed, “So he favored tailored suits, well cut and subdued. He bought crisp white shirts and tasteful ties. He wore the round tortoise-shell glasses popular with college men. He kept his mustache neatly trimmed, his hair short.” Ossian was always trying to prove himself, he “tried too hard to impress”2 as Boyle put it. The buying of the bungalow was quite possibly a strategic move to further how he has ‘made it big’. As a child living on the colored side of a segregated town he would have achieved what his parents could not. He would be living in a white neighborhood as “most of the colored elites”3 had been doing for some time now, that much closer to the image of a talented tenth citizen. In Gladys’s case the effect it would have on her status as a colored woman probably did not even cross her mind. As a woman she cared more for the design of the house, the aesthetics, the yard for her children not the location or the statement it made for her or her race. Both wanted the house but for different reasons, those of which were deeply rooted in who they were.
There were many other ways that didn’t include breaking the color line that would have exhibited Ossian’s great life achievements. Yet even after the threats, opposition, and return of the bone rattling...

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