Essay: WHAT AMERICA WOULD BE LIKE WITHOUT BLACKS

What would America have been without the Negro? The question, however farfetched, periodically rises to the surface of the American imagination. For a discussion of the mystery and meaning of that question, TIME turned to Black Novelist Ralph Ellison, author of The Invisible Man and Shadow and Act.

THE fantasy of an America free of blacks is at least as old as the dream of creating a truly democratic society. While we are aware that there is something inescapably tragic about the cost of achieving our democratic ideals, we keep such tragic awareness segregated...

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