Since the earliest period of the forcible kidnapping of Africans to satisfy a growing demand for labor in this land, which eventually came to be called the United States of America, black people have fought against the tyranny of domination by white people. As Vincent Harding so thoroughly documents in his book There Is a River, that struggle began in Africa, continued on the ships, and has not stopped to this day.
In February of 1988 the centennial year of the birth of Marcus M. Garvey and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington during which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his powerful and famous "I Have A Dream" speech, Hofstra University gathered together scholars, attorneys, activists, and political figures in order to examine the present state of Black Civil Rights. Many of the great moves forward which occurred in the period after the March on Washington have been countered by steps backward since 1980. Increased and more open tension in northern cities have given witness to the fact that mutual respect between black and white people is far from achieved. We gathered at this conference "Dream and Reality: The Modern Black Struggle for Freedom and Equality" as a way to examine that reality in order to provide understanding and direction. As a nation, we cannot stand proud if we do not practice that "Justice and equality for all" which we proclaimed to the world over two hundred years ago. The essays in this volume are a selection of those first presented at that conference. They have since been revised for publication.