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The Unsteady March The Rise and Decline of Racial Equality in America cover
  • ISBN: 9780226443393
  • ISBN10: 0226443396

The Unsteady March the Rise and Decline of Racial Equality in America

by Rogers M. Smith

  • List Price: $35.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 11/01/1999
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Although Americans would like to believe otherwise, our nation's commitment to racial equality has never been consistent, nor has it been irresistibly driven forward by America's founding principles. In The Unsteady March, Philip Klinkner and Rogers Smith disprove the idea that the United States has been on a "steady march" toward the end of racial discrimination. Rather, progress has been made only in brief periods, under special conditions, and it has always been followed by periods of stagnation and retrenchment.

In their sweeping and accessible history of race relations, Klinkner and Smith show that significant advances in racial justice have occurred only when three circumstances have converged: large-scale wars, which require extensive economic and military mobilization of African Americans; an enemy that inspires American leaders to advocate inclusive, egalitarian values in order to justify the war; and domestic political organizations that are able to pressure those leaders to follow through on their rhetoric. Klinkner and Smith's history clearly demonstrates that substantial progress has not yet occurred with out these factors working together, as they did during the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Cold War eras.

Today we are in a period of retrenchment like those that have followed previous reform eras. With its insights into contemporary racial politics and its wealth of historical material, The Unsteady March is a penetrating and controversial analysis of race relations across two centuries. The fight for racial equality has not been won, the authors argue, nor will it be unless we recognize the true factors behind progress and the extraordinary efforts required toachieve it.

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