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The Republican Revival and Racial Politics

Derrick Bell and Preeta Bansal
The Yale Law Journal
Vol. 97, No. 8, Symposium: The Republican Civic Tradition (Jul., 1988), pp. 1609-1621
DOI: 10.2307/796542
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/796542
Page Count: 13
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The Republican Revival and Racial Politics
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Abstract

Harlem in the late 1930's remained locked in the hard times of the Great Depression. The earlier desperation had given way to a silent struggle for survival. During a quiet moment on a too-crowded block, an old, black man sat on his front stoop observing familiar activities of the community he served as respected sage. His wisdom, distilled during a long, hard life, dictated a pragmatism that bordered on cynicism. He listened now to the earnest young street worker, an exile from the upper class, extolling the marvels of the Marxist millennium that would eventually replace the agony and travail of capitalist oppression. The old man had heard it all before, but he was patient as the young man harangued him about the brave, new, benefit-filled world that would come sooner if only black people would rise up and throw off their economic chains. When the young proselytizer finished, the black man said he had only one question. "Ask me anything, Pop," the young radical urged. "I have the answers to all your people's problems." "Well," asked the old man, "when you revolutionaries take power and change all the world over-will you still be white?"

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