Maya Angelou in 1972, three years after the publication of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Credit Eddie Hausner/The New York Times

A racist world, described by those who knew it

Jon Meacham New York Times August 22, 2017

He didn’t really want to go back, but he knew he had to. Bearing witness, seeking to understand, confronting past and present in their complexity and pain: It was all part of what Robert Penn Warren had called “the awful responsibility of Time” in his 1946 novel “All the King’s Men…”  The result of Warren’s journey was his 1956 book “Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South,” a reportorial portrait of the emotions of a moment not unlike our own — as painful as that is to note. Warren, who had written sympathetically of segregation in a 1930 essay he later repudiated, sought out the voices of African-Americans and Ku Klux Klansmen, of ministers and teachers, businessmen and professors, farmers and lawyers. Reading Warren alongside other midcentury works by Maya Angelou, Richard Wright and Marshall Frady, who profiled George Wallace, is to see anew the truth that Appomattox was as much a beginning as it was an end.

Photo caption: Maya Angelou in 1972, three years after the publication of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Credit Eddie Hausner/The New York Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.