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The NAACP Turns Left

- Abstract

This past November, Bill Clinton delivered what may come to be regarded as one of the most important speeches of his presidency. The subject, black-on-black crime in the inner cities, was an unusual and even risky issue for a white politician to address. Other elected officials, black and white alike, have generally shrunk from serious comment on black crime—whites for fear of being accused of “blaming the victim,” blacks for fear that their words might provide fodder for political adversaries.

Clinton, of course, is a liberal Democrat who has appointed numerous blacks to high positions and endorsed the major items on the civil-rights legislative agenda; he could thus anticipate being welcomed by a black audience—in this case, a convention of clergymen gathered at the church in Memphis, Tennessee, where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his last sermon—as a friend and ally.

About the Author

Arch Puddington is director of research at Freedom House and the author, most recently, of Lane Kirkland: Champion of American Labor.