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Tanner Colby's tough-minded look at integration

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) February 15, 2014: In-groups and out-groups have been formed in different societies over the centuries. For example, in ancient times, we find the Greek/barbarian categorization of a certain in-group (Greeks) versus the out-group (barbarians = all non-Greeks), the Jew/gentile categorization (gentiles = all non-Jews), and the Christian/pagan categorization (pagans = all non-Christians).


In more recent centuries, in American culture down to the 1960s, we find that white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) dominated the prestige culture, relegating everybody else to the out-group (= all non-whites and all non-Anglo-Saxons and all non-Protestants).


However, in each of these examples, the people in the supposed out-group usually were not one cohesive group. Instead, they were several out-groups. For example, blacks were one out-group, even though most of them were Protestants. Roman Catholics were another out-group, even though most of them were white. Jews were another out-group, even though most of them were white.


Nevertheless, in American culture in the 1950s and 1960s, the black civil rights movement managed to win widespread support among certain whites, resulting in landmark civil rights legislation under President Lyndon B. Johnson.


Tragically, President Johnson also escalated American involvement in the Vietnam war, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the leader of the black civil rights movement, was also involved in anti-war protests.


Tragically, Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. His assassination sparked riots in certain parts of the country.


After Richard M. Nixon was elected president in 1968, it fell to his administration to help restore law and order, on the one hand, and, on the other, restore peace and calm and hope among blacks by promoting affirmative action and so-called black capitalism.


But in the years following Dr. King's tragic assassination, his dream of racial integration met with resistance not only from many whites, but also from certain blacks.


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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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