Understanding Black Patriotism

Black leaders are often labeled unpatriotic. But African Americans have long shown their love of country by pointing out its imperfections

Paul Colangelo/Corbis

A National Guardsman pictures on 9/11

Mainstream America has shown little understanding lately of the patriotism that a lot of black people practice. Black love of country is often far more robust and complicated than the lapel-pin nationalism some citizens swear by. Barack Obama hinted at this when he declared in Montana a few weeks ago, "I love this country not because it's perfect but because we've always been able to move it closer to perfection. Because through revolution and slavery ... generations of Americans have shown their love of country by struggling and sacrificing and risking their lives to bring us that much closer to our...

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