Campus Units

History, U.S. Latino/Latina Studies

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Black Intellectual Thought in Modern America: A Historical Perspective

First Page


Last Page



In his influential book Stride toward Freedom, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. argued that the United States had displayed "a schizophrenic personality on the question of race." In making this statement, he linked the double consciousness that black people experienced on a daily basis to the broader American body politic.The United States, King wrote, "has been torn between two selves-a self in which she has proudly professed democracy and a self in which she has sadly practiced the antithesis of democracy:' This bipolarity had plagued the United States since the birth of the Republic. King recognized in the civil rights movement, and in the federal government's and some white people's responses to it, the awakening of America to its finest and democratic self. For many blacks, the willingness of the Supreme Court to begin dismantling Jim Crow, the readiness of the Congress to debate new civil rights legislation, and the ability of local governments to address civil rights issues represented the coming victory of black liberal reform over American racism.


This is a chapter from Brian D. Behnken. 2017. "The Quest for Racial Change: African American Intellectuals and the Black Liberal Tradition". In: Black Intellectual Thought in Modern America: A Historical Perspective. Brian D. Behnken, Gregory D. Smithers and Simon Wendt, Editors. University Press of Mississippi. pp. 80-106. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

University Press of Mississippi



File Format