What does The State of Black America have to do with Progress, Pitfalls, and the Promise of the Republic? Has the United States been more boon than bane to Africans on American soil and their descendants? These questions are disturbing for the simple reason that they continue to be asked generations after racial slavery was abolished and de jure segregation ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The arguments and evidence presented in this unconventional collection of essays, edited by William B. Allen, indicate that for black Americans “progress” and “pitfalls” remain contested matters.

As Claremont Institute board chairman Thomas D. Klingenstein notes in his foreword, this kind of book is made necessary by widespread acceptance of the twin claims that America’s political institutions are “systemically racist,” and that black Americans are incapable of prospering under such a system without substantial government intervention. All but one of the essays refute these claims categorically. They proceed from the premise that the American promises of freedom and equality, both in principle and law, have provided sufficient opportunity for blacks to improve their lot and their posterity’s.

Even before the American Revolution had secured political independence from Great Britain, enslaved blacks on American soil were petitioning

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