We Need to Do Some Work

"Which side are you on?" writer Budd Schulberg asked his friend, the writer James Baldwin, 30 years ago. Some black leaders, he noted, specifically Elijah Muhammad, then leader of the Nation of Islam, thought it was "too late for American whites." So where did Baldwin, a "celebrated Negro spokesman," stand? "On Elijah Muhammad's side or what you call my sloppy liberal -- interracial side?"

The question put to Baldwin is, of course, today being put to African- American political and religious leaders, writers and columnists, college instructors and rap artists, and many others who routinely speak before the public. A New...

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