When James Forman, the militant black leader, seized the altar of the Riverside Church in order to read a demand for $500 million in reparations for American Negroes, it was clear enough that the First Amendment to the Constitution was being violated. But not so obvious was the fact that Forman’s proposal, which seems so bold at first hearing, would not really change the lot of more than 20 million black Americans at all. And by focusing attention on an outlandish scheme, which would not work in the unlikely event that it were ever tried, there is a very real danger that political energy will be diverted from the real struggle.
The civil liberties point should be obvious to everyone. The Bill of Rights’ guarantee of fr...
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