Talking About the Untalkable

As jobs grow scarcer and resentments rise, blacks and whites give Studs Terkel an earful about race and class

In Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States, the Founding Fathers decided to count three-fifths of a state's slaves toward its representation in Congress. Put another way, most blacks in America were, at one time, considered to be only three-fifths of a person.

This national birth defect went uncorrected until the Civil Rights Act of 1866 established "that all persons born in the United States . . . are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States." Passed during the most exhilarating days of Reconstruction, the act was greeted with officious optimism. "If there is anything...