Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader

Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader

Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader

Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader

Synopsis

The history of civil rights in the United States is usually analyzed and interpreted through the lenses of modern conservatism and progressive liberalism. In Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader,author Jonathan Bean argues that the historical record does not conveniently fit into either of these categories and that knowledge of the American classical liberal tradition is required to gain a more accurate understanding of the past, present, and future of civil liberties in the nation. By assembling and contextualizing classic documents, from the Declaration of Independence to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning school assignment by race, Bean demonstrates that classical liberalism differs from progressive liberalism in emphasizing individual freedom, Christianity, the racial neutrality of the Constitution, complete color-blindness, and free-market capitalism. A comprehensive and vital resource for scholars and students of civil liberties,Race and Libertyin Americapresents a wealth of primary sources that trace the evolution of civil rights throughout U.S. history.

Excerpt

This is the first collection of writings on race and immigration to document the role of the classical liberal tradition. For many generations, this tradition dominated the civil rights movement, and it continues to exert a profound influence on current events. Classical liberals fought slavery, lynching, segregation, imperialism, and racial distinctions in the law. As immigration advocates, they defended the “natural right” of migration to America. Race and Liberty recaptures this lively tradition through the writings of men and women missing from other civil rights anthologies. Academic booklists reflect the politically correct view that left-wing liberals or radicals completely dominated the struggle for racial freedom. Works offering a different point of view are guilty of “backlash,” “whitewashing race,” or “color-blind racism”—the trendy notion that those who favor nondiscrimination are “objectively racist.” Not surprisingly, classical liberals are the invisible men and women of the long civil rights movement.

Race and Liberty will interest readers tired of the Left versus Right debates on television or the Left on Left offerings in the classroom. Instructors may use this collection to stimulate discussion of a civil rights tradition deeply rooted in the American experience. While students may agree or disagree with the classical liberal perspective, they will not “shut down” in silence, looking for the “correct” answers they have encountered in other discussion readers. Students live in a highly charged campus climate that presumes racism is everywhere and must be overcome by “affirmative discrimination,” diversity studies, multiculturalism, harassment codes, and sensitivity training by “race experts.” Race and Liberty frees them to consider another way of looking at the world.

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