In His Own Words

[Book Cover:
The Washington Post
Saturday, September 29, 2007


"It seemed self-evident ... that the treatment of blacks in America cried out for the unequivocal condemnation of a righteous institution that proclaimed the inherent equality of all men. Yet the Church remained silent, and its silence haunted me. I have often thought that my life might well have followed a different route had the Church been as adamant about ending racism then as it is about ending abortion now."


"What was the point of working within the system? Segregation, lynchings, black codes, slavery: the endless litany of injustices raced through my head. Surely the time for politeness and nonviolent protest was over. Look what it had done for Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy -- not to mention Daddy [his grandfather], Aunt Tina, and the millions of other compliant, self-deluded blacks who played by the rules."


"For years my brother and I would ask ourselves how a man could show no interest in his own children. I still wonder."


"I still wondered why she'd chosen to do what she did, though my guess was that a combination of ego, ambition, and immaturity had caused her to let herself be drawn into the effort to destroy me -- but that was Anita's problem, not mine. I had tried to help her. She had betrayed me. Now she was on her own."


"Had I been a liberal, they would have overlooked my youth and comparative inexperience, not to mention the fact that I'd been admitted to Yale Law School in part because I was black. That painful truth was the soft underbelly of my career, and I knew that my opponents would thrust a dagger into it if they could figure out how to do so."


"Since most of them saw abortion rights as the single most important matter likely to come before the Supreme Court, I had to be stopped, whatever the cost."


"But I'd never asked my mother how she voted, nor did she ask me why I'd chosen to ally myself with a party that so many blacks regarded as racist and evil. Now she could see for herself. Patrick Leahy, Howard Metzenbaum, Joe Biden, Paul Simon, even Teddy Kennedy: all of them were arrayed against me. ... Never before had I seen her as angry as she was in the fall of 1991. All her life she'd assumed that Democrats in Washington were sensible leaders -- but now she saw these men as single-issue zealots who were unwilling to treat her son fairly."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company