Today the American people regards the plight of its deprived minorities with conflicting attitudes. These mixed feelings arise from traditional attachments to equality and justice which conflict with a long history of racial repression and hostility. Unprecedented amounts of public and private assistance are now offered to ease the dispossessed into the middle-class world. Yet a growing number of Americans feel that too much is being done too soon for the minorities. The persistence of the minority problem prevents national unity from emerging out of ethnic diversity. By exploring the history of minority groups from colonial beginnings to the present day we seek to comprehend and communicate a vital aspect of the national existence-the experience of America's ethnic groups.
In varying degrees, depending upon approximation to the Anglo-Saxon ideal, ethnic minorities have been considered foreign even when native born. Accordingly we categorize as ethnic minorities all groups of non-English origin. Included in our working definition are peoples of different national backgrounds such as the Scotch, the Irish, and the Germans; of different racial origins such as the Negroes, the Indians, and the Orientals; and religious minorities such as the Jews.
We emphasize the harsher aspects of minority group experiences in the United States, for we feel that the conflicts and frustrations of minority life in America have often been minimized or overlooked. Students of American history are too frequently ignorant of the humiliating conditions that these people have endured. Although most minorities achieved, with varying degrees of difficulty, middle-class homogenized American goals, we feel that it is more instructive and accurate to emphasize the struggle and cost of this process and to indicate where the outcome has been exclusion and failure rather than acceptance and accomplishment. Although we have included articles that represent various phases of minority group life our emphasis on struggle and ordeal reveals our concern about past and present group conflicts in American society.
A number of people have helped us prepare this book. Mrs. Shirley Lerman, Mrs. Helen Cermak, Miss Connie Nosbisch, and Mrs. Betty Hampel have typed the manuscript skillfully. Mrs. Jocelyn Ghent has been an uncomplaining and painstaking researcher and proofreader. Michael Ebner made some bibliographical suggestions. Professors Oscar Handlin, Moses Rischin, and Clyde Griffen evaluated our original outline and suggested ways of improving it. We would particularly like to thank Professor J. Joseph Huthmacher and Miss . . .