THE WHITE MINORITY: Pioneers for Racial Equality by Richard Stiller

THE WHITE MINORITY: Pioneers for Racial Equality

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Much of the information contained in Stiller's Broken Promises: The Strange History of the Fourteenth Amendment (1972) is repeated in this chronicle of the erosion of the civil rights supposedly extended to black Americans after the Civil War. The new twist here is Stiller's featuring of three white ""pioneers"": the writer George Washington Cable, a Confederate war veteran who waited fifteen years to speak out after deciding that the racists were wrong; Albion Tourgee (also a writer), an idealistic carpetbagger and successful politician who spoke out for equality but died (in France) an ardent imperialist; and John Marshall Harlan who evolved from a slaveowner opposed to the Fourteenth Amendment to the sole Supreme Court Justice dissenting from the scandalous Jim Crow decisions. Though all three are no doubt to be commended for their stands--and all have left statements worth quoting--none of them appears here as grandly heroic; and Stiller, interspersing snatches of their careers with more general background and other examples of racial conflict and discrimination, projects no sense of the three as either individuals or influential voices. Throughout his survey, Stiller cites examples of Northern racism that might astound young readers: white supremacist statements by the New York Times, denial of voting rights in several states, exclusion of blacks from ""even the union led by Eugene V. Debs."" But again, many of the same items appeared in his earlier book. Marginal.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1977
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich