What Franklin considers here, in his Jefferson Lecture, is the historical persistence of inequality in America, the insidious belief in black inferiority that has permeated interracial relationships, supported segregation policies, and perpetuated the myth that equality is divisible. Again and again--in establishing the priorities of the Founding Fathers, the preoccupations of the abolitionists, and the partisan motives of politicians--he demonstrates how often the legal status of black people has been relegated to another legislative session, another generation. In recalling the limited impact of emancipation, the seesaw of opportunities during the two world Wars, and the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s, he reminds us that callous Social policies have had violent consequences and insists that equality is ""indivisible"" despite the practices of the past. What is striking is neither the accumulation of supportive detail nor the forceful observations which Franklin (and others) have offered before but the sober, distinctive manner of his argument and the inescapable logic of his assertion that equality is a principle ""essential to the shaping of our future."" An articulate statement well grounded in historical fact.