During the presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump reached out to African-American voters by asking, “what the hell do you have to lose?” Here is a cogent response from a veteran journalist.
Williams (Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate, 2011, etc.), currently a columnist at The Hill, provides detailed answers to Trump’s question regarding six different realms of government discrimination against African-Americans, using the Civil Rights Act as approved by Congress in 1964 as his guide for selecting those elements. Other key laws include the Fair Housing Act and the Voting Rights Act. In each area, the author documents the dreadful early record of the Trump administration, followed by a succinct history of the civil rights gains made against stiff opposition during the second half of the 20th century. As Williams focuses on the gains, he singles out a primary advocate in each of the six realms: voting rights (Bob Moses), education (James Meredith), public accommodations (Everett Dirksen), equal rights legislation (James Baldwin), employment (A. Philip Randolph), and housing (Robert Weaver). Williams is an accomplished storyteller; as a result, the oft-documented historical gains in each chapter feel fresh again. Trump has been shamed countless times for translating his racist tendencies into abhorrent public policy, so Williams does not mount any groundbreaking attacks. However, his skillful succinctness makes his anti-Trump commentaries often devastating. Some readers might consider the author’s account of past gains overly enthusiastic. He notes that while never deviating from accepted factual accounts, he intends for the historical context of the gains to spawn inspiration. Williams writes that he feels optimistic about the post-Trump future for civil rights because those on the correct side of the law can rely on far more resources, digital and otherwise, than their predecessors.
As he ends this relevant and well-grounded book, Williams tells Trump that African-Americans have “a lot” to lose, “far more, it appears, than [Trump] will ever know.”