Mar. 14, 2019

WHAT IF RECONSTRUCTION HADN'T FAILED

The Blackman Who Reads Aloud
America's Ebbing Tide, Failed Results "Black Reconstruction"
Day Four
The Atlantic Magazine
Annette Gordon-Reed

"The pervasiveness of white-supremacist ideology in academia gave license to Jim Crow efforts for decades after the Civil War."

What if American historians during the aftermath of Reconstruction had not been white supremacists? A different type of society and a different type of education about that society ​would have given young blacks and whites an opportunity to learn another narrative about black people’s place in America.

There is little reason to doubt that if the United States had started the process of rewriting the script on race relations during the late 19th century, instead of delaying it to the 1950s and 1960s, many problems that have their origins in the country’s troubled racial history might be closer to resolution. As Justice Thurgood Marshall noted in 1978 in the affirmative action case, The Regents of University of California v. Bakke, America has been dealing with the tragedy of Reconstruction’s failure and its aftermath for decades now. It appears that the country will likely be doing so for the foreseeable future.