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We had separatism then, and we have it now. But I do not think it is wise from a policy point of view nor from a long term point of view. It plays too much into the hands of white reactionaries and those liberals who want cheap solutionsquick black studies programs, that sort of thing. Negroes should never forget that separate cannot be equalMartin Luther King was so clear on thisthat black and white must work together. That is what has to happen in the end.
I have been to some Northern universities and I have seen that separation beginning to take placealmost apartheidblacks and whites not eating together, and so on. Separatism cannot be the end of the vision.
I am still basically optimistic about America. True, America is in a worse crisis than it was in the Civil War. Then why am I optimistic? I think I come back to America's Puritan tradition. The legacy of Puritanism is not entirely wholesome in this country. There is, for instance, a self-righteousness that makes us in the rest of the world angry. But one good thing in the legacy is the possibility of conversions. Take Reconstruction and the moving away from it, take Prohibition and abandoning it, take the example of Americans entering World War II as extreme isolationists and ending it as extreme interventionists. I know of no nation in the world that can change its fundamental attitudes so rapidly as America. And I have the feeling that conversions are possible in the racial crisis.
No historical development goes in a straight line. This is a down, a trough, and there will be an up. I have never been one of those who believed that your country would go fascist. It could not be at peace with its soul, with ideals that are more explicit in America than anywhere. There is still time, and there will be time if the right direction is laid down. And the right direction should be toward an equal society.