The Public Interest

An American tragedy

Alvin Kernan

Spring 1999

RACISM is the original sin of American society, and no matter how a millenarian society centered on equality attempts to ameliorate it or, better still, eradicate it, it remains, a baffling and ugly fact. Slavery, the Missouri Compromise, John Brown, the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Great Society—still racism is there, and nothing makes it go away.

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