HERE I AM -- TAKE MY HAND by Marie & Jean Curtis Brookter


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Soupy title notwithstanding, Marie Brookter is more soldier than supplicant. She has climbed up the political ladder of four Presidential campaigns as a black spokesperson. At the slightest provocation, she will tell you ""I'm not a white man's nigger,"" but, like the Kennedy brothers she trusted and revered, she believes in ""strategies of principled flexibility."" Brookter's first political lesson came from her cousin Lester Markfield, Field Director of the NAACP in their native rural Louisiana until he had his head blown off for trying to register to vote. Cousin Lester taught her to be far-sighted, pragmatic and wholly committed. His caveat, ""We must not gain the whole pie one month and lose three-fourths of it the next month,"" recurs to her again as the not-so-bright young men surrounding George McGovern manage to do just that in the 1968 campaign. Brookter gives a blow-by-blow account of her view of the jealousies, staff competition, political bloodletting and smoke-filled room tactics inside the Democratic Party -- furthermore accusing the party of out-and-out racism in undermining her work as the first black advance woman (""a fly in a bowl of milk"") in Presidential politics. She displays her extraordinary professionalism and political savvy (with attention to points as Fine as ordering ""either Schlitz or Budweiser, brands we thought would probably endorse McGovern"" and insisting ""NO LETTUCE!"") -- and offers this piece of worldly advice to her brothers and sisters: ""You have to kick ass to get what you want.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1974
Publisher: Harper & Row