“Crania Americana,” by Samuel Morton (1839)
“The Narrative of the Life,” of Frederick Douglass (1845)
Edgar Ray Killen, the architect of the 1964 Chaney-Goodman-Schwerner murders, is convicted on manslaughter charges and sentenced to 60 years in prison.
* “The Narrative of Sojourner Truth” (1850)
Many Americans might not know the more polemical side of race writing in our history. The canon of African-American literature is well established. Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, James Baldwin are familiar figures. Far less so is Samuel Morton (champion of the obsolete theory of polygenesis) or Thomas Dixon (author of novels romanticizing Klan violence). It is tempting to think that the influence of those dusty polemics ebbed as the dust accumulated. But their legacy persists, freshly shaping much of our racial discourse.
“To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee (1960)
Former Confederate general and noted white supremacist Nathan Bedford Forrest, architect of the Fort Pillow Massacre, becomes the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan murders several thousand people in the as an effort to suppress the political participation of black Southerners and their allies.
And then, as a nation, we have a week like last week.
The Ku Klux Klan publishes its "Organization and Principles". Although early supporters of the Klan claimed that it was philosophically a Christian, patriotic organization rather than a , a cursory glance at the Klan's catechism reveals otherwise:
* “Invisible Man,” by Ralph Ellison (1952)
The "inalienable right to self-preservation" is a clear reference to the Klan's violent activities—and its emphasis, even at this early stage, is clearly white supremacy.