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The arrival of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) and Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) in a Frisian village in the Netherlands on November 24, 2012. (Patrick Post / Hollandse Hoogte)

Who Is Zwarte Piet?

A holiday tradition in the Netherlands involving blackface has sparked a debate about race, the legacy of slavery, and the vestiges of colonialism. Emily Raboteau told the story in our Winter 2014 magazine.

Ed Harris (as Dr. Bill Perch) and Amy Madigan (as Susan Perch) in The Jacksonian, which premiered in February 2012, at the Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles, directed by Robert Falls. (All photographs by Michael Lamont)

The Jacksonian [private]

CHARACTERS (In order of appearance) BILL PERCH, a dentist and motel resident  ROSY PERCH, daughter of Bill and Susan Perch  EVA WHITE, a waitress and motel maid FRED WEBER, a motel bartender SUSAN PERCH, wife of Bill Perch, mother o [...]


We tell the story every year—
how we peered from the windows, shades drawn—
though nothing really happened,
the charred grass now green again.

A Kind of Cracker Camelot

In her highly acclaimed first book, Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene focused on a little known patch of the large and complex quilt that is the Southern civil rights movement. She peopled it with characters who were both courageous and flawed, and the end result offered us a fresh and illuminating insight into the difficult and intractable problem of race in this country. Her newest book, The Temple Bombing, works from the same recipe. This time the event is the little known 1958 bombing of Atlanta's reform Jewish Temple. Greene's characters are an indefatigable young rabbi, Jacob Rothschild; a violent group of bigots intent on finding a Jewish conspiracy behind the country's racial turmoil; a burgeoning Southern city on the cusp of radical change; and a host of civic and business leaders whose stance on civil rights is guided by the exigencies of healthy commerce rather than by moral conviction.

Doing the Work: Why We Need Affirmative Action

The arguments about whether affirmative action has run its course, has accomplished its purposes, or now constitutes an enshrined system of discrimination against white people contain so little historical perspective that they are eviscerated at the core. They remind me of trees felled by a hurricane. Most of these arguments seem to locate our entire racial history in a period beginning at about the end of World War II, with the defining events being the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Brown’s Faint Revival

We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in the public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other 'tangible' factors may be equal, deprive the minority group of equal educational opp [...]

The Journey to School Integration

Whenever I see sheets drying on the line or smell gumbo simmering on the stove, a flood of memories comes to me. In 1953 when I traveled in the rural South with a group of students, we received the generosity of strangers—African Americans who took us in when there were no places for nonwhites to eat or sleep.