This is a forceful meditation on the persistent disparity between the goal of racial equality in America and the facts of discrimination. Presented as the prestigious Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, ""Racial Equality in America"" traces America's history of racial inequality. In a strong critique of Thomas Jefferson, Franklin shows that this spokesman for democracy did not include African Americans among those ""created equal"". Franklin chronicles the events of the 19th century that solidified inequality in America and shows how emancipation dealt only with slavery, not with inequality. In the 20th century, America finally confronted the fact that equality is indivisible: that it must not be divided so that it is extended to some at the expense of others. Once this indivisibility is accepted, Franklin charges, America faces the monumental task of overcoming its long heritage of inequality. Nearly 20 years after this book was first published, that task has fallen to yet another generation. ""Racial Inequality in America"" offers a powerful reminder that our history is more than a record of idealised democratic traditions and institutions. It is a message to Americans, calling upon them to know their history and themselves.
John Hope Franklin is the author of many books, including The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-First Century, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, and the highly acclaimed biography George Washington Williams. With more than ninety honorary degrees and dozens of other awards and honors, Franklin is the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History and, from 1985 to 1992, was Professor of Legal History in the Law School at Duke University.