Is America Possible?
The Land That Never Has Been Yet
Some years ago I came across one of the most intriguing book titles that I have ever seen. It was set forth in the form of a question: Is America Possible?1 Even without delving into the contents, I was struck by the playful seriousness of the inquiry, the invitation to imagine and explore the shape and meaning of a "possible" America, an America still coming into existence. The idea itself, of course, was not new, simply its formulation. But since then, everywhere that I have paused to reflect on the powerful, flooding movement of the Black struggle for freedom in America, I have been called back to that title, to its query and challenge. For it is a question that has always been at the heart of the Afro-American quest for democracy in this land. And wherever we have seen these freedom seekers, community organizers, artisans of democracy, standing their ground, calling others to the struggle, advancing into danger, creating new realities, it is clear that they are taking the question seriously, shaping their own answers, testing the possibilities of their dreams.
Is America possible? Yes, they say, sometimes testifying to their vision with great eloquence: "I have a dream that one day . . ." Sometimes joining their vision to the magnificent Biblical images, they proclaim, "I've been to the mountaintop. I've seen the Promised Land." Or, in the marvelously mundane messages of their freedom songs, expressing great hope: "If you