The myth of US American “greatness” is not only a right-wing narrative. Liberals too embrace the concept that the nation is fundamentally good; certainly, they insist, our worst days are behind us and we can all be grateful for the progress we’ve made. Leading us on this shining path have been enlightened figures like Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy, Carter and Obama, all of whom have sought to fulfill the promise of the wise “Founding Fathers” and their brilliant (even sacred) Constitution.
In her recently released book, “Prejudential: Black America & the Presidents,” writer and activist Margaret Kimberley skewers this fantasy. She takes on every president from Washington to Trump, with a chapter devoted to each. With the accessible, no-nonsense but pointed style she employs in her weekly Freedom Rider column on Black Agenda Report, Kimberley summarizes the words and deeds of the 44 men who have held the office. The facts are damning.
I consider myself a history buff and have read many books and articles about US history in particular, but there wasn’t a single chapter that didn’t contain surprises for me, in some cases big ones. Some of the things that were new to me: