Every so often I feel compelled to suggest a book not only for the skill of the author’s writing ability, but also for its social importance. The book, A Stronger Kinship, by Anna-Lisa Cox is such a book.
A true story describing the town of Covert, Michigan during the late 1800s, it tells the tale of the town’s unique population. People settled in the area because the “land was abundant, fertile and cheap, supporting themselves first through lumbering and then through fruit farming. Families developed churches, schools and” formed businesses, creating a small community. What set this town apart was that the population of Covert was integrated at a time when the rest of America was not.
The reader encounters a community who felt that all people were equal regardless of color and meets the runaway slaves, freed blacks and abolitionist New Englanders who were the backbone of this community. While elsewhere the country was experiencing racism, families here, black and white, lived side by side on farms and in the town.
Readers meet the first elected African American official, the town’s business leaders who came from both sides of the color line, and families that were integrated through marriage and accepted by the entire populace. What is remarkable is that this community has stayed true to the original conviction of the pioneer generation. Now a small town outside of South Haven, Covert is a typical rural community in Southwest Michigan – typical except for the easy blending of color that makes it a model for others. It conveys the sense that intentional community is not always impossible, and that the highest morals can be lived out in ordinary life.