Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Different Kind of Division


So America was divided by race in 1963 and it is divided by race today. But it is not divided in anything like the same way. And the case for optimism about racial polarization starts with what the fire hoses and bombs of ’63 signify about the difference between the civil rights era and our own.

 Then, the major issue facing black America was entirely zero sum: for Dr. King to win, Bull Connor had to lose. There was no potential common ground so long as segregation lasted. Jim Crow had to perish outright for African-Americans to move forward as Americans. And their white supremacist oppressors knew it, which is why they turned to state-sponsored violence and state-sanctioned terrorism to defend their system and way of life.