KEYSTONE CONFEDERATES

Between the first Southern secessions in December 1860 and the firing on Fort Sumter in April 1861, Northern states, as well as Border States, faced a dilemma. The union was falling apart, and the incoming administration had not yet made it clear what would be done to reform it, or to prevent further erosion. Political leaders across the North sometimes talked loyalty, but they often looked to their own interests or the good of their state, and those were not necessarily in sticking together under Lincoln. The Pacific states -- Oregon and California -- were separated from the rest by vast miles of desert and Indians. They held sudden power in a split government, and many of their settlers were of Southern origin. Rumors back east told that the western seaboard would attempt to separate. Meanwhile, across the country, New York City, behind Mayor Fernando Wood and Dan Sickles, threatened to secede and become a "free city."[1] There was a more serious attempt to form a Midwestern bloc, behind the region's Democratic leaders like Vallandigham, Pendleton, Cox, Logan, and McClernand. This region still relied on the Mississippi river for its economic prosperity, and the lower reaches of that river were now in foreign hands. That left the Ohio valley states more dependent than ever on Eastern businessmen and Republicans, something they already loathed about their position. There was talk in the old Northwest of forming a confederacy of their own, or joining with the new one. In this case, economics as well a politics favored the idea. Economics and politics, too, flowed into talk of secession in southeastern Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia and the surrounding counties -- which were so hostile to abolitionists that the Republican ticket in the November 1860 election didn't even use the party name but disguised itself as the "People's party," and took up that old Whig shibboleth, "tariff protection," as its rallying cry. The tariff issue is credited with giving Lincoln his 60 percent vote in traditionally Democratic Philadelphia. Philadelphia's economic ties to the South have been well-documented since Kenneth M. Stampp outlined them in And the War Came (1970). The city's merchants and manufacturers, like the Cotton Whigs of Boston, deplored the Republican moves during the secession crisis. They advocated letting the South go without resistance -- if they could not join it outright. There was much talk of this in the early months of 1861. The Pennsylvanian, a newspaper edited by a relative by marriage of President Buchanan, was just one voice advocating a Pennsylvania union with the Confederacy. Another city newspaper laid out the case plainly: "Can Philadelphia with the South cut off compete with New York in ships, in trade, and other branches of enterprise? We opine not." Prominent Pottsville politician Francis W. Hughes warned in February 1861 that Pennsylvania risked trading Southern customers and profits for a "place in some Northern fragment of a once-glorious Union." Not all the mercantile class interest in the South was pure greed. Pennsylvanians seemed particularly attached to Virginia -- a sentimental relic of Revolutionary days, perhaps -- and Pennsylvania's William Bigler in a Jan. 21, 1861, speech on the Senate floor proclaimed that "Pennsylvania will never become the enemy of Virginia. Pennsylvania will never draw the sword on Virginia." He supported the Crittenden Compromise and spoke for peaceful Southern secession. Some state leaders showed a personal devotion to the values represented by the Confederacy that cost them their fortunes and clearly ran deeper than craven self-interest. When it became clear that Pennsylvania would not join the Confederate States, George McHenry, former director of the Philadelphia Board of Trade, emigrated to London and advocated for the Confederate cause from there. Political and ideological forces also gave many in Pennsylvania a strong sympathy for the South. Many followed the thinking of their fellow citizen, President Buchanan, in taking a constitutional, non-coercive approach to the secession crisis. This was not a weak policy, as some would have it, but was rooted in a sound interpretation of the Constitution and old-style federalism. Robert Monaghan, a leader of the Chester County Democrats, told a militia organizer before the war started, "If you go down there to shoot, damned if I don't go down there and shoot back." William B. Reed, a leading Philadelphia Democrat, called for a Pennsylvania convention "to determine with whom her lot should be cast, whether with the North and East, whose fanaticism has precipitated this misery upon us, or our brethren of the South whose wrongs we feel as our own." Robert Tyler, former chair of the state Democratic Executive Committee, wrote, "should the Border States join the Southern Confederacy within one, two or three years, it would then become a most serious question to determine the political status of Pennsylvania and New Jersey in that relation." And George W. Woodward, chief justice of the state Supreme Court not only argued for the South's right to peaceful secession, he added, "I wish Pennsylvania could go with them." In a study of Pennsylvania newspapers before Fort Sumter, 17 of the 23 Democratic newspapers examined "supported some sort of secession." Out of the 31 Republican papers, eight also supported the South's right to leave the union.[2] The Harrisburg Patriot and Union on April 9, 1861, summed up a feeling echoed from many presses: "If this administration wickedly plunges the country into civil war, it will be a war between the Republican party and the Southern States." Mass meetings in the months before Sumter "stressed the North's offenses against the South" and called on Pennsylvania "to choose between 'fanatical New England' and 'the South, whose sympathies are ours.' " ... "Abolitionists, blamed for the crisis, were more detested than ever. ... Peace rallies persisted through January, February, and March." All this and more can be found in "Philadelphia, a 300-year History," the standard modern comprehensive history of the city, in a chapter tellingly titled "The Border City in the Civil War." There was a rush of patriotism after Sumter, and the attack on the flag galvanized the citizens behind the administration in Washington. Leading Philadelphia secessionists like Tyler were run out of town by mobs. Others kept quiet. "There are a great many men here who are for the South," a Philadelphia letter of May 16, 1861, reported, "but they cannot say a word for fear of being hung or put in prison or being shot down like dogs." But patriotic solidarity for Lincoln's war began to ebb as early as the summer of 1861. "Enthusiasm faded everywhere of course, but in Philadelphia it gave way to especially bitter dissention, as the city's traditional sympathy for the South and antipathy toward the black man once again clouded its dedication to the Union."[3] The city's first families were never for Lincoln, and Sidney George Fisher in his biography says he was the only Lincoln-defender in his social circles. A tavernkeeper, speaking at a pro-Southern meeting in Kirkwood, Lancaster County, in August 1861 said: "I am in favor of secession, and believe the South are justifiable in their rebellion and hope they may succeed. The war is an abolition war, made by an abolitionist administration for the destruction of the South. ... The object of the administration was to liberate the negroes in order that the people of the North might be enslaved. For if the free negroes come North how would the white laborer make his living?" He added, "I am for the whole country, North, South, East, and West; all except God-damned New England."[4] based on analysis of regimental records from Virginia, a startling 2,000 Pennsylvanians are believed to have fought in the Confederate armies -- and that is a "very conservative" estimate.[5] Among the best-known is Wesley Culp, born and raised in Gettysburg, who moved to Virginia before the war, enlisted in the 2nd Va. Infantry, and was killed July 2, 1863, during the Stonewall Brigade's attack on Culp's Hill, within sight of the house where he had been born. 1. Roy Franklin Nichols, The Disruption of the American Democracy, N.Y.: The MacMillan Co., 1948, pp. 394-402. 2. William C. Wright, The Secession Movement in the Middle Atlantic States, Cranbury, N.J.: Associated Universities Presses, 1973. 3. Russell F. Weigley, ed., Philadelphia: A 300-Year History, N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Co., 1982, p.402. 4. "Village Record" newspaper, West Chester, Pa. 5. Christian B. Keller, "Keystone Confederates: Pennsylvanians Who Fought for Dixie," in Blair, William, and William Pencak, eds., Making and Remaking Pennsylvania's Civil War, University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001.

SOUTHERN POPULISTS

Something else that intrigued me recently, on the list of "true things that don't fit into the present paradigm," is the Southern Populist movement of the 1890s. This political revolution forged -- for a time -- a common cause between poor whites and blacks, just at the time when, most people are taught to believe, the South was celebrating its re-enslaving of the freedmen. Not only that, the Populists, in their approach to blacks, steered clear of the patronizing approach of the radical Republicans and the noblesse oblige of the conservative Democrats. But the most amazing fact is that the movement came right out of the depressed, deprived lower class of Southern whites -- the very crackers who are supposedly the most fanatic racists in the world. The movement, and the racial bridge, eventually failed, but the wonder of it is how far they all came before they did. And it gives the lie in a big way to the notion that Southerners are historically incapable of achieving racial harmony without Northern intervention. Though the Populists had their share of two-faced politicians and race-baiters, the movement as a whole made a remarkable call for trans-racial solidarity, based on an equality of want and poverty, a common grievance and a common oppressor. "They are in the ditch just like we are," as a white Texas Populist put it. Tom Watson, the leading light of Southern Populism had the vision of "presenting a platform immensely beneficial to both races and injurious to neither," and "making it in the interest of both races to act together for the success of the platform." The success of the party overall hinged on black cooperation, and Watson promised blacks that, if they succeeded at the ballot box, the Populists would "wipe out the color line and put every man on his citizenship irrespective of color." "You are made to hate each other," he said, addressing both races, "because upon that hatred is rested the keystone of the arch of financial despotism which enslaves you both. You are deceived and blinded that you may not see how this race antagonism perpetuates a monetary system which beggars you both." My interest is not in Watson's polemics or his party's assumptions about human nature. But rather in the success it had, as an indigenous Southern movement, in breaking down racial barriers and achieving some degree of equalitarianism. There was political pragmatism behind it, of course. The president of the first Populist convention in Texas said, "We have no disposition to ostracize the colored people. I am in favor of giving the colored man full representation. ... He is a citizen just as much as we are, and the party that acts on that fact will gain the colored vote of the South." But the pragmatism led to sincere action. The convention cheered the Texas speaker's sentiments, and what's more it elected two blacks to the state executive committee of the party. Other Southern states followed the example. In terms of real integration, the Populists far outstripped the radical Republicans. Blacks were not shunted into figurehead appointments with nominal power. They operated in the inmost councils of the party. They served alongside whites in county, district, and state executive committees, campaign committees, and as delegates to national conventions. Black and white campaigners spoke from the same platform, to mixed-race audiences, and both had places on official party tickets. Populist sheriffs made sure blacks were represented on jury duty, and Populist newspaper editors praised the achievements of black citizens. Watson, in Georgia, announced that it was the object of his party to "make lynch law odious to the people," and the 1896 Populist Party platform in the state contained a plank denouncing lynching. In the campaign four years earlier, a black Populist had made 63 speeches for Watson. He was threatened in one town and fled to Watson for protection. Watson called for aid, and some 2,000 white farmers showed up, some of them after riding all night, and remained on armed guard for two nights at his home to prevent violence to this man. Henry Demarest Lloyd wrote that the Southern Populists had given "negroes of the South a political fellowship which they have never obtained, not even from their saviors, the Republicans." Sadly, in the end the surge of the Populists and the Farmer's Alliance helped push the South into Jim Crow. The conservative old guard, which had taken at least a paternalistic interest in blacks and protected them from the most fanatic racists since 1877, was thrown back on the defensive. To keep their grip on a power that was slipping away from them, the conservatives went overboard and turned to fraud, bribery, violence and terror to defeat the Populists. And as part of that, they raised the cry of "Negro domination" and white supremacy. The Populists protested, to no avail. "It is no excuse," a Virginia Populist newspaper wrote in 1893, "to say that these iniquities are practiced to 'preserve white civilization.' In the first place it was white men who were robbed of their votes, and white men who were defrauded out of office." Because in the ultimate irony, the conservatives used the black vote to defeat the aspirations of the white lower class. The conservatives still dominated in the Black Belts, and they bought and intimidated some black voters, but mostly they just stuffed the ballot box, or counted up all the votes on their side, regardless of reality. In election after election, thumping majorities of black votes turned up for the party of white supremacy. In 1896, the conservatives carried only one-fifth of the parishes of Louisiana that had a white majority, but, as the New Orleans Times-Democrat cynically noted, the party of white supremacy was once again "saved by negro votes." Seeing their votes stolen and the party stalled, black Populists grew apathetic. Seeing their party fail through failure of black votes, many white Populists decided the attempt at a black alliance had been a mistake. In some cases they turned their bitterness against the black race. And the white conservatives were on the one hand stuck with the devil's bargain they had made with racist fanatics, and on the other more interested in disfranchising the blacks to prevent their votes from defecting again. Their opponents, meanwhile, often found no harm in legally disfranchising blacks from votes that were only going to be stolen anyhow. It was one more step in the slow stagger of America, and especially the Southern part of it, into the deplorable race relations that characterized the first half of the 20th century. But for a time, the two races surprised each other and astonished their opponents by cooperating with harmony and good will. "[T]hings have not always been the same in the South," C. Vann Woodward wrote in 1955. "In a time when the Negroes formed a much larger proportion of the population than they did later, when slavery was a live memory in the minds of both races, and when the memory of the hardships and bitterness of Reconstruction was still fresh, the race policies accepted and pursued in the South were sometimes milder than they became later. The policies of proscription, segregation, and disfranchisement that are often described as the immutable 'folkways' of the South, impervious alike to legislative reform and armed intervention, are of a more recent origin. The effort to justify them as a consequence of Reconstruction and a necessity of the times is embarrassed by the fact that they did not originate in those times. And the belief that they are immutable and unchangeable is not supported by history." It's yet another irony of the situation that some (most?) of the best studies of the evolution of race relations in the South 1865-1920 came out during the early days of the Civil Rights movement. They were written by Southern historians of liberal/progressive (lower-case "p") inclination, and the slant to them was exploding the myth that the South has always been (and always will be) a segregated, racist, white supremist culture. Since this was the rallying point of the die-hard segregationists, the historians pointed out that the position was not borne out by history. Always a great introduction to the topic is Woodward's "The Strange Career of Jim Crow," first edition 1955, which is still in print. Martin Luther King Jr. called it "The historical Bible of the civil rights movement."

ZACH WALKER

Pennsylvania had three lynchings in the years when that was common practice in America. Maryland had one. In Coatesville, Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1911, a black man named Zack Walker was burned alive for killing a white steel mill cop. They dragged him from the hospital, still chained to his bedstead, and burned him to death in front of thousands of witnesses in a field south of the city. No one was convicted of the crime. When he staggered from the pyre, a mass of flames, with rakes they shoved him back in. I have seen the picture of what was left of him. It would not fill a grocery bag. Around it are the bare feet and legs of young boys. I found the photos in the back of a cabinet drawer of the West Chester newspaper when I became an editor there. A year after the lynching, John Jay Chapman, poet, dramatist and social critic, came to Coatesville, hired a hall there and held a memorial service. Only two people came. But the speech was published in Harper's Weekly (Sept. 21, 1912) and Chapman's book of essays, "Memories and Milestones," (1915) and has become a classic. Here is part of what he said: We are met to commemorate the anniversary of one of the most dreadful crimes in history — not for the purpose of condemning it, but to repent for our share in it. We do not start any agitation with regard to that particular crime. I understand that an attempt to prosecute the chief criminals has been made, and has entirely failed; because the whole community, and in a sense our whole people, are really involved in the guilt. The failure of the prosecution in this case, in all such cases, is only a proof of the magnitude of the guilt, and of the awful fact that everyone shares in it. I will tell you why I am here; I will tell you what happened to me. When I read in the newspapers of August 14, a year ago, about the burning alive of a human being, and of how a few desperate, fiend-minded men had been permitted to torture a man chained to an iron bedstead, burning alive, thrust back by pitchforks when he struggled out of it, while around about stood hundreds of well-dressed American citizens, both from the vicinity and from afar, coming on foot and in wagons, assembling on telephone call, as if by magic, silent, whether from terror or indifference, fascinated and impotent, hundreds of persons watching this awful sight and making no attempt to stay the wickedness, and no one man among them all who was inspired to risk his life in an attempt to stop it, no one man to name the name of Christ, of humanity, of government! As I read the newspaper accounts of the scene enacted here in Coatesville a year ago, I seemed to get a glimpse into the unconscious soul of this country. I saw a seldom revealed picture of the American heart and of the American nature. I seemed to be looking into the heart of the criminal — a cold thing, an awful thing. I said to myself, "I shall forget this, we shall all forget it; but it will be there." What I have seen is not an illusion. It is the truth. I have seen death in the heart of this people. For to look at the agony of a fellow-being and remain aloof means death in the heart of the onlooker. Religious fanaticism has sometimes lifted men to the frenzy of such cruelty, political passion has sometimes done it, personal hatred might do it, the excitement of the ampitheater in the degenerate days of Roman luxury could do it. But here an audience chosen by chance in America has stood spellbound through an improvised auto-da-fé, irregular, illegal, having no religious significance, not sanctioned by custom, having no immediate provocation, the audience standing by merely in cold dislike. I saw during one moment something beyond all argument in the depth of its significance. No theories about the race problem, no statistics, legislation, or mere educational endeavor, can quite meet the lack which that day revealed in the American people. For what we saw was death. The people stood like blighted things, like ghosts about Acheron, waiting for someone or something to determine their destiny for them. .... Let me say something more about the whole matter. The subject we are dealing with is not local. The act, to be sure, took place at Coatesville and everyone looked to Coatesville to follow it up. Some months ago I asked a friend who lives not far from here something about this case, and about the expected prosecutions, and he replied to me: "It wasn’t in my county," and that made me wonder whose county it was in. And it seemed to be in my county. I live on the Hudson River; but I knew that this great wickedness that happened in Coatesville is not the wickedness of Coatesville nor of today. It is the wickedness of all America and of three hundred years — the wickedness of the slave trade. All of us are tinctured by it. No special place, no special persons, are to blame. .... There is no country in Europe where the Coatesville tragedy or anything remotely like it could have been enacted, probably no country in the world. On the day of the calamity, those people in the automobiles came by the hundred and watched the torture, and passers-by came in a great multitude and watched it — and did nothing. On the next morning the newspapers spread the news and spread the paralysis until the whole country seemed to be helplessly watching this awful murder, as awful as anything ever done on this earth; and the whole of our people seemed to be looking on helplessly, not able to respond, not knowing what to do next. That spectacle has been in my mind. The trouble has come down to us out of the past. The only reason slavery is wrong is that it is cruel and makes men cruel and leaves them cruel. Someone may say that you and I cannot repent because we did not do the act. But we are involved in it. We are still looking on. Do you not see that this whole event is merely the last parable, the most vivid, the most terrible illustration that ever was given by man or imagined by a Jewish prophet, of the relation between good and evil in this world, and of the relation of men to one another? This whole matter has been an historic episode; but it is a part, not only of our national history, but of the personal history of each one of us."

YORK RACE RIOT

This happened in York, Pennsylvania, a small city where people who lived only a few blocks apart lived in separate worlds -- in what a local newspaper has called "a de facto segregated and discriminatory system supported by city government." William Lee Smallwood, now a city councilman, said, "I remember as a teen-ager being routinely stopped by the cops when they'd see me with a white girl." Black citizens of York had been marching on city hall since 1963, protesting police violence and official discrimination. Their demands for a bi-racial police review board were turned down by the all-white city council. The marchers were frequently clubbed or had German shepherds set on them by police. Whites in York blamed it -- and still blame it -- on "outside people coming in stirring up the neighbors," as one resident recently said. A York College professor put it like this: "It's not simply that people were bigoted. Many whites just didn't see race issues as their problem. Probably most York citizens were in favor of integration, but they saw it as a Southern problem." Not everyone, though. The city had several notorious white gangs -- such as Roosevelt Park Inc., the Newberry Street Boys, the Swampers, and the Girarders -- which the Pa. Crime Commission report called "armed vigilantes." By the mid-'60s, York had become a war zone, divided by race. "What began as bottles and bricks in 1967 escalated into guns in 1968 and armor-piercing bullets by the summer of 1969," according to the York Dispatch, the newspaper which has done wonderful work in documenting the city's recent history (and from which most of the information in this post is drawn). The York race riots began July 17, 1969, after a white gang member shot and wounded a black man. Fights broke out, buildings were set ablaze and police began barricading black neighborhoods. More than 60 people were injured, 100 were arrested and entire city blocks burned. A white rookie police officer was fatally shot while patroling the city in an armored car. No one has ever been identified as the assassin, and the case is still unsolved. On July 20, the day after the killing, York white citizens rallied. One of the police officers who attended was yelling "white power!" He gave bullets for a 30.06 hunting rifle to white gang members and told them to "kill as many niggers as you can." He also told them, "If I weren't a cop, I'd be leading commando raids against niggers in the black neighborhoods." The next night, a cadillac driven by Hattie Dickinson blundered onto Newberry Street. This was the turf of the Newberry Street Boys, and it was the wrong place to be if you were black, in York, and Dickinson was black. She and her family were visiting York from Aiken, S.C. They were out to pick up groceries. Dickinson, was driving her father's car when she saw a person with a gun. She tried to turn around on Newberry Street, near Gay Avenue, at the barricades fronting the railroad tracks. The car stalled. Armed white men poured from the porches. Dickinson panicked. Her parents, in the back seat, started praying. Her older sister, Lillie Belle Allen, 27, jumped out of the car to get to the driver's seat and take the wheel. She waved her arms and yelled, "Don't shoot!" A hail of gunfire cut her down. One of the Newberry Street Boys fired the first shot, and "after that all hell broke loose and it seemed as though everyone started shooting," according to a witness. Up to 20 white shooters at Newberry Street and Gay Avenue opened fire from the street, rooftops, and windows. Allen's body was riddled with "pumpkin balls," buckshot the size of a .38-caliber bullet. The ammunition supplied by the police officer flew along with the rest, though it was not the fatal bullet. Witnesses heard the first shooter later say "we got one," and, "I blew the nigger in half." People who knew about the fatal shootings kept silent, because they were afraid or they didn't want to be seen as traitors. "It was tougher than pulling teeth," said Thomas V. Chatman Jr., who was lead detective on the murder investigations for the York City police. "There were witnesses. But no one wanted to tell you anything. People took sides according to race and didn't want to cooperate." And so for thirty years, the case was cold. Then one of those witnesses finally cracked. Donald Altland, 51, killed himself along the banks of the Susquehanna River on April 11, 2000. Altland left a note on a napkin that read "Forgive Me God," and two cassette tapes reportedly detailing the Allen case, including the admission that he was one of the men who fired on Allen's car. Two months later, the district attorney's office announced it had new leads in the murders. And so while ex-Ku Klux Klansman Thomas Blanton Jr. is being sentenced to life in prison for the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, nine people are being indicted in York and other places for the killing of Lillie Belle Allen. And that police officer, the one who handed out bullets and advised commando raids and shouted "white power"? He's now the mayor of York. Just last month in the primary election he won nomination for another term. In the Democratic Party. Around midnight, a few weekends ago, bright orange stickers were plastered all around downtown York. "Earth's Most Endangered Species: The White Race. Help Preserve It," they read. They were put up by The National Alliance, a neo-Nazi organization based in West Virginia. Dr. William L. Pierce, the leader of the National Alliance, said he has doubled the membership of the alliance to about 2,000 members and 30 chapters in the last few years. He has five alliance chapters in rural Pennsylvania and Maryland, within an easy drive of York. Ann Van Dyke, civil rights investigator for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, said that York "obviously has a long history of distrust" between the races. "But I also emphasize that York County has the highest number of citizens unity coalitions in the state," Van Dyke added. "It deserves credit for being one of the most diligent at reporting hate crimes." National Alliance stickers and pamphlets appear regularly in state trouble spots, Van Dyke said, along with provocations from a wide assortment of other groups seeking to exploit local frustrations over changing demographics and problems with government like prison and highway proposals, and even landfills. The state's high number of waste dumps is an endless source of local fears. "Anywhere you've got change happening and people are scared, you'll find fodder for bigotry, even a dump, for Pete's sake. We've seen messages of 'The Jews are running the dump.' "

JONATHAN KOZOL

I had a chance recently to hear Jonathan Kozol speak. If you ever get such a chance, take it. He is magical in person. Kozol is 60, a Boston native, and grew up along the well-trodden path of the Boston brahmin: Harvard University, Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, four years writing in Paris, and ready to go to graduate school in 1964 when the Civil Rights movement caught fire and inspired Kozol to join the battle. Thousands of young Northerners descended on Mississippi to fight segregation. At least three of them died there. But Kozol didn't go to Mississippi. He went across Boston, from Harvard Square, to Roxbury. He went to the A.M.E. church and asked what he could do to help. Soon he was teaching summer school reading to dozens of inner-city children. He went to work as a substitute teacher in Boston's public school system. He was fired two years later for reading Langston Hughes to fourth-graders. But he kept working, writing, and teaching in New York and Boston inner city public schools. A lifetime later, he's still at it. He has spent a great deal of time in one particular district in the South Bronx. You can read about it in his last two books. He spoke of Morris High School, in the South Bronx, where there are 1,200 ninth-graders. If the present is like the past, 90 will reach 12th grade, and 65 will graduate. And while people celebrate the reduction of the symbols of the Confederacy in Georgia and South Carolina as civil rights victories, Kozol's report from his front in the war is rather more grim. The average family income of the children he works with is $10,000 a year. A quarter of the children have chronic asthma, which they treat with inhalers they buy illegally from drug dealers. They know hunger, AIDS and murder like you know your next-door neighbors. And their "price tag" is $8,000 -- that's how much the state spends to educate them each year (take NYC cost of living into account when comparing to your town). If they lived in a typical white suburb of New York City, their price tag would be $12,000; in a wealthy town on Long Island, $18,000. "So, we say in church and in synagogue ... we say all children are of value in the eyes of God," Kozol said here. "And in the eyes of God, I'm sure they are. But not in the eyes of America. In the eyes of America, children come into public schools with price tags printed on their foreheads. The ones I write about are inexpensive children, cheap children." And he also said this: "Whenever I go into a school and don't see any white children anywhere, I think, 'this is segregation.' And so I write in my books that these are segregated schools. Some conservatives attack me because I don't give a lot of statistics." So he went and got statistics. "In this district, there are 11,000 elementary school children. Of those 11,000 children, last year, exactly 22 were white. Now, I'm not terrific at arithmetic ...but I can do long division. That is a segregation rate of 99.8 percent. So two-tenths of 1 percent marks the difference between legally enforced apartheid in the South 50 years ago, and socially and economically enforced apartheid in New York today." Kozol said you go to any urban school in America, and "you look at the faces of the children, you look in their eyes, and you try to tell yourself that this post-modern and millennial apartheid is what all our martyrs died for." So, what flag do we run down to fix this? New York's? And do the people who know so much about what's going on in Mississippi's schools know what's going on in the ones on the other side of the town where they live and write?