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There would not have been a Civil Rights Act or a Voting Rights Act were it not

for the Republicans in the Senate who beat back Southern Democrats who stood

in the schoolhouse doorway and other doorways of progress. So that link to me

is very, very important in terms of building the bridge that is necessary . . .



Book by Michael Steele

Right Now: The Twelve Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda

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The Real Michael Steele

Interviewed by Kam Williams


Michael Stephen Steele was born on Andrews Air Force Base in Prince Georges County, Maryland on October 19, 1958, but given up for adoption while still in infancy. He was then raised by William and Maebell Steele, although Maebell eventually remarried following her husbandís untimely death in 1962.

Michael attended Archbishop Carroll Roman Catholic High in Washington, DC, before matriculating at Johns Hopkins University where he earned a BA in international studies. He subsequently studied to become a monk for several years, until he decided to leave the seminary shortly before being ordained. Instead, he proceeded to earn a J.D. at Georgetown University en route to landing a position as a staff attorney at a leading, international law firm. 

Steele first entered politics in 2000, which is when he was voted Chairman of Marylandís Republican Party. A couple of years later he won the Stateís race for Lieutenant Governor, and by 2008 he had become the first African-American ever elected to serve as Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC).

He is currently a commentator on MSNBC, where heís generally the lone conservative in a sea of liberal pundits. Here, the former RNC Chairman reflects on his life and philosophy, on his hopes for the GOP, and on the Partyís prospects for attracting more African-American voters in 2012.  

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Kam Williams: Hi Michael, thanks for the interview. Iím happy to get you on the phone, after trying to track you down for an interview for a couple of years.  

Michael Steele: I am very sorry to hear that, Kam.

Kam Williams: Have you seen the film Fear of a Black Republican directed by Kevin Williams? Heís the person who helped put me in touch with you, finally.

Michael Steele: Yes, I have seen it and, in November, I will be attending a showing of it in New Jersey, and participating in a discussion of the movie afterwards.

Kam Williams: I plan to attend, too, so I look forward to meeting you in person that day. Given your almost becoming a priest, and Catholicismís concern with the plight of the poor, I wonder what led you to the Republican Party, which I see as more concerned with the welfare of the rich. 

Michael Steele: On what do you base that? What is the genesis of the question? To ask me to answer that straight out of the box assumes and presumes a lot that I believe is not true about Republicans. Why would you have that impression? What either anecdotal or factual incident would you refer to as an example of Republicans not caring for the poor?  

Kam Williams: Iím not thinking of anything in particular. Itís just my general impression.

Michael Steele: Even though far more of the very people who run the industrial complex of this country, whether youíre talking about Wall Street or the military, are in fact Democrats? [Chuckles] The CEOs of the leading Fortune 500 companies are largely Democrats. What that says to me is that we have lost the definitional battle, as Republicans, because we engage differently. Thatís one of the criticisms I have about how Republicans position themselves, not on the philosophical or policy landscape, but on the political landscape. We always seem to position ourselves in a way which works to our detriment. So what we have is a failure to communicate which has resulted in this perception that you have about Republicans caring more about the wealthy, when most of the Republicans that I know and deal with on a day-to-day basis tend to be blue-collar people, not country club types. Conversely, most of the wealthy people Iíve dealt with in my political career have been Democrats.       

Kam Williams: Bob Christian asks: What could Republicans do to attract more African-Americans to the Party?

Michael Steele: A couple of things. One is to own up to our failures as a party, when it comes to making important investments in the black community when it counted, like during the Civil Rights Movement. While we had been the architects of great civil rights legislation like the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments and the 40 Acres and a Mule policy of the Reconstruction Era, the party hesitated when it really mattered in the 1950s and early 1960s, and thereby lost an opportunity to preserve the longstanding relationship between African-Americans and the GOP. And we probably wouldnít be in the position today where weíre suffering from an erosion of support from African-Americans. Step Two would be for us to show up in the community prepared to have meaningful discussions about issues that actually matter to us, like job creation, in a way which makes sense. Thatís why my very first official act as Chairman was to host a town hall meeting in Harlem. To me, that was a very important step to take.       

Kam Williams: Harriet Pakula Teweles asks: How can people of color reconcile the social and economic platform of the Republican Party with the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King?

Michael Steele: We could start off with the debate about whether or not Dr. King was a Republican. We know that Daddy King was. We know that African-Americans of that era were largely Republican. Set that aside, since what Harrietís asking here is more fundamental. I would argue that, historically, major pieces of civil rights legislation were sponsored by and fought for by Republicans. There would not have been a Civil Rights Act or a Voting Rights Act were it not for the Republicans in the Senate who beat back Southern Democrats who stood in the schoolhouse doorway and other doorways of progress. So that link to me is very, very important in terms of building the bridge that is necessary for this generation going forward.     

Kam Williams: Reverend Florine Thompson asks: What is you position on Affirmative Action?

Michael Steele: Iím in favor of Affirmative Action. We created Affirmative Action. It was one of the economic tools that the Nixon Administration put in place to make sure that African-Americans enjoyed fairer treatment in landing federal and state contracts. Yet today, many think of it as something Democrats created. No, it was something we created, because it was consistent with our view of economic empowerment. It wasnít a handout but a way of leveling the playing field. As I like to say, Iím an Affirmative Action baby. Iím a beneficiary, not just professionally in terms of my career, but academically, of those who stood with President Nixon. I like to think of 40 Acres and a Mule as the first Affirmative Action program, and I appreciate that historic link from the Reconstruction Era to the present day. I believe the Republican Party ought to embrace that part of its history and I also think itís an important asset for the African-American community and other minorities to have as they continue to compete for the American Dream by creating the networks necessary to rebuild the devastated neighborhoods that we currently live in.  

Kam Williams: Larry Greenberg asks: Is having your own Muppet on The Daily Show the true measure of oneís becoming a cultural icon?

Michael Steele: [Laughs heartily] Well, as I sit here looking at my Muppet friend, I would say: it helps. I know itís a way for Jon Stewart to poke fun at me and the RNC, but I took it as a true compliment. I learned a long time ago that if you canít laugh at yourself and some of the crazy things you have to put up with while doing a job, then you need to find another line of work. I was just very flattered and honored that they thought enough even to create such a thing.  

Kam Williams: Mirah Riben asks: What did you think of Governor Christieís decision not to run, and which Republican do you think has the best chance of beating Obama in 2012?

Michael Steele: I think Governor Christie made the right choice because, as he says in his own words, heís not ready. Heís a friend, I take him at his word and, when the time comes, I look forward to supporting his leadership nationally. In terms of whoís going to take on Barack Obama, thatís going to be measured out over then next four or five weeks, quite honestly. I donít have a particular favorite in the race. In fact, Iím contractually bound not to under my analystís responsibilities at MSNBC. However, we have on the stage individuals who will be able to go toe-to-toe effectively with Barack Obama.   

Kam Williams: Mirah also asks: Given the success of the Tea Party and now the demonstrations against Wall St. in NYC which is mushrooming into a national movement, do you think the time is ripe for a viable third party?

Michael Steele: Yes, I do. The real seedlings for what could become a third party or at least a third way probably began around 2005 with people who were disappointed with the party. The Tea Party grew out of a frustration with big government Republicanism. And this movement we now see on Wall Street is something that started in Wisconsin this past winter in response to what Governor Walker was doing with respect to state employees and collective bargaining. So youíre seeing these elements in society beginning to voice their opinions. Personally, I think thatís exciting, and we should pay close attention to it. And if youíre really moved by it, get involved.  

Kam Williams: Helen Silvis asks: Do you ever get embarrassed by fellow Republicans, like Governor Perryís association with a place called N-word Head Ranch?  

Michael Steele: Yes, I do, and it frustrates me to no end because, in politics, perception is reality. And itís doubly painful when reality exacerbates the perception. I know the Governor, and this wasnít a racist act on his behalf.

But it wasnít enough just to paint the rock over. Remove it, because you know whatís still beneath the paint. And you know what that rock stands for and symbolizes. That is a measure of your appreciation and your sensitivity that we as a nation canít and wonít tolerate that. 

Kam Williams: Helen has a follow-up: Is it lonely being a black Republican? How did you even get mixed-up with the wrong crowd in the first place?

Michael Steele: [LOL] Well, I tend to be a contrarian, so that makes it pretty easy for me to get mixed-up with the wrong crowd. Look, you chart your own path in life. You assess the various options that lie before you, and you figure out where you can make a difference. When I first considered getting involved with the Republican Party, I decided to make the GOP confront not only its past and its present, but its future, including all the young African-Americans, the entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, teachers, moms and dads that we need to go out, talk to and attract.   

Kam Williams: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: Do you think that there is really any difference between the left-wing and the right-wing in terms of concern for the plight of black America, or is that an illusion?

Michael Steele: Ahhh, thatís a good questionÖ Thatís a good question, and an important one for how we as a community go forward. On paper, yes. In reality, no. It is true that Democrats, Liberals and the Left  take the African-American vote for granted every single moment of every single day while Republicans, Conservatives and the Right ignore the African-American vote every single moment of every single day. As a result, there is no political effort addressing what have become systemic problems for the African-American community. For all of the talk and hand-clapping, Democrats have not produced a hell of a lot to fix whatís wrong. Meanwhile, we have not made the concrete effort to help the community figure out how to tackle those problems. That being said, we are just as responsible for our situation as the political parties for being in the mess weíre in because we take the one thing politicians want the most, the vote, and misuse it. We donít leverage the vote effectively by pressuring politicians to pay attention to our agenda. Just look at other communities and ask: Do they have the same problems that we do?    

Kam Williams: Patricia also says: You have been a political trailblazer. What advice do you have for minorities, the handicapped and females who want to break through the glass ceiling?

Michael Steele: Have the courage of your own convictions in terms of what you believe, and donít back down from that for one moment, because every day, you have to be able to look in the mirror and say, ďI like that person. I understand that person.Ē If you canít do that, then your dreams wonít materialize. They just wonít. Theyíll be co-opted by others, put on a shelf, or dismissed. But when you believe very firmly in who you are, everyone will pay attention and respond to that and appreciate the leadership and the qualities which make you unique, and theyíll embrace it and want to be a part of it, even if they disagree with some of your beliefs, because theyíll see the total person. Thatís the key, getting people to see the total person.  

Kam Williams: The Judyth Piazza questions: How do you define success? And, what key quality do you believe all successful people share? 

Michael Steele: Knowing youíve done your best. As a society, we tend to be outcome determinative and only care about winning, without concern for how we get there. But for me, how you get there factors into it. How you get there is everything. As for the quality successful people share, Iíd say itís perseverance.

Michael Steele: Judyth also asks: What's the most important lesson you've learned from politics?

Michael Steele: [Chuckles] Man, thatís a good question. First, have someone watch your back, and then have someone watch them. Second, remember that you canít please everybody, but you certainly can tick them all off at the same time. And third, keep smiling; itíll confuse the hell out of them.

Michael Steele: Film critic Peter Keough asks: What was it like having Mike Tyson for a brother-in-law? That must have made for some very interesting family get-togethers.

Michael Steele: [Chuckles] Really cool. Michael is a very warm guy. Heís funny and very smart, and heíd be the first one to tell you that a lot of his boxing persona was just for the ring. Heís still a part of the family, and we get together with him for various occasions that are important to us and certainly to his kids.  

Kam Williams: Reverend Thompson also asks: What is your most valued spiritual practice and how does it help you in the political arena?

Michael Steele: Prayer! Would not survive without it. Would not be where I am today without it. I probably say forty to fifty prayers a day in various ways. Sometimes, itís just to say, ďThank you, Lord,Ē and He knows the rest. I turn to prayer in those moments when I need to stop and recognize that thereís something greater than me thatĎs going to heal me or give me the wisdom I need right then. And thatís powerful. Itís a practice that became a part of me in the monastery. Iíd probably be a very different person, if I hadnít entered the monastery before I began my public life, and one you might not want to deal with. [LOL]  

Kam Williams: Why did you leave the monastery?

Michael Steele: Because God leads you to your vocation and to follow your calling. I had needed to confront my demons and my shortcomings, along with my positive qualities and put them all in proper perspective to understand that it ainít all about you. Thatís the problem with most public officials today. They really believe itís all about them. So public service takes on this sort of star quality, despite the fact that as the Bible teaches theyíre supposed to be served last, not first. If you donít understand that in your leadership, you will end up failing. Look at people like Congressmen Weiner, Senator Vitter and others who have had their personal shortcomings exposed because they thought it was really all about them. 

Kam Williams: Reverend Florine Thompson also asks: What do you see as your greatest accomplishment?

Michael Steele: Itís still happening, and thatís helping my two boys become strong black men.

Kam Williams: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

Michael Steele: Is there such a thing? [LOL] Oh, man, these are some good questions.

Kam Williams: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

Michael Steele: Yeah, absolutely! Iím afraid every day.

Kam Williams: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

Michael Steele: Yes, and you can be both, afraid and happy. One feeds off the other. It just depends on which one hits first. [Laughs]

Kam Williams: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

Michael Steele: Itís been a long time. There wasnít a lot funny about the last two years. Itís been a long time.

Kam Williams: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Michael Steele: I have expensive tastes. For example, I love collecting watches, and Iíll spend a little coin on that.

Kam Williams: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

Michael Steele: Tourťís new book, Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness. Iíve got it right here.

Kam Williams: The music maven Heather Covington question: What are you listening to on your iPod? 

Michael Steele: A mashup of Rihanna by Kaskade.

Kam Williams: What is your favorite dish to cook?

Michael Steele: Anything Italian.

Kam Williams:: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

Michael Steele: Kwab Asamoah. Heís from Ghana, and his company is called Kustom Looks.

Kam Williams: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Michael Steele: Maebellís son.

Kam Williams: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

Michael Steele: [Chuckles] I suddenly feel like a beauty pageant contestant. World peace! Seriously, thatís really a hard question to answer for me because I wouldnít waste my wish on something like a bigger car. It would have to be for something inward or spiritual as opposed to something outward or material.

Kam Williams: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

Michael Steele: I can remember my father chasing me down the hall in my diaper. He died a couple of years later. I think itís one of those memories that God gives you to hold onto. You donít realize it when youíre young, but it hits you at some point later in life that that was Godís way of reminding you.   

Kam Williams: Dante Lee, author of Black Business Secrets, asks: ďWhat was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?"

Michael Steele: My best business decision was to start a business on my own, to follow my entrepreneurial spirit and to trust it. And my worst business decision was to start a business on my own, to follow my entrepreneurial spirit and to trust it. [Chuckles]

Kam Williams: The Bernadette Beekman question: What is your favorite charity?

Michael Steele: Catholic Charities.

Kam Williams: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?

Michael Steele: People! I just love meeting and being with people. Iím usually the last person to leave an event because you just want to grab every ounce of energy you can from people. That excites me so much!

Kam Williams: The Toure question: Who is the person who led you to become the person you are today?

Michael Steele: My Mom, Maebell. A sharecropperís daughter. A woman with a 5th grade education making minimum-wage working in a laundromat. Her son grows up to become the lieutenant governor of the state and the chairman of a national political party. Thatís all Maebell!

Kam Williams: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

Michael Steele: He tried.

Kam Williams: Thanks again for the time, Michael, and best of luck on MSNBC and with all your endeavors.

Michael Steele: No, thank you, Kam!

posted 12 October 2011

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The First Black Republicans  / Juan Williams and the Tea Party

Herman Cain Now GOP Frontrunner / Donald RitchieóFoundations of the U. Senate

Exploring Romney's Shifting Stances

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Close Ties to Goldman Enrich Romneyís Public and Private LivesóNicholas Confessore, Peter Lattman, and Kevin Rooseó27 January 2012ó When Bain Capital sought to raise money in 1989 for a fast-growing office-supply company named Staples, Mitt Romney, Bainís founder, called upon a trusted business partner: Goldman Sachs, whose bankers led the companyís initial public offering. When Mr. Romney became governor of Massachusetts, his blind trust gave Goldman much of his wealth to manage, a fortune now estimated to be as much as $250 million.  And as Mr. Romney mounts his second bid for the presidency, Goldman is coming through again: Its employees have contributed at least $367,000 to his campaign, making the firm Mr. Romneyís largest single source of campaign money through the end of September.

No other company is so closely intertwined with Mr. Romneyís public and private lives except Bain itself. And in recent days, Mr. Romneyís ties to Goldman Sachs have lashed another lightning rod to a campaign already fending off withering attacks on his career as a buyout specialist, thrusting the privileges of the Wall Street elite to the forefront of the Republican nominating battle. . . . But other elements of Mr. Romneyís personal and business ties to Goldman may prove more controversial. Bainís mid-1990s acquisition of Dade Behring, a medical device maker with factories in Florida, has become a totem of the economic upheaval that private equity can inflict. Goldman invested in the acquisition, which brought the bank $120 million and Bain $242 millionóbut led to the layoffs of hundreds of workers in Miami.

Democrats hammered Mr. Romney over the deal this week. When Mr. Romney was building Bain into one of the worldís premier private equity firms, Goldmanís bankers clamored for Bain business, and won assignments advising or financing an array of Bain deals, including Bainís 1997 $800 million buyout of Sealy, the nationís largest mattress company, which it later sold. As Mr. Romney amassed his fortune, Goldman also offered up the services of an elite Boston-based team in the bankís private wealth management unit. The relationship gave him access to Goldmanís exclusive investment funds, including private equity vehicles known as Goldman Sachs Capital Partners.óNYTimes

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 Ė Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

Iím a big fan of Charles Mannís previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Itís exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that itís anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, Iím proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, ďglobalizedĒ entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose ďsouthern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.Ē

We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her bookís footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a conventionís decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maierís accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponentsí objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly).

Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state conventionís verdict affected anotherís. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.óBooklist

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Boisí Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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