CHRISTOPHER PHELPS, associate professor of history at Ohio State University at Mansfield, is author of Young Sidney Hook: Marxist and Pragmatist (2nd ed., University of Michigan Press, 2005) and editor of Max Shachtman's Race and Revolution (Verso, 2003) and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2005).
It is the age of Barack, the age of Trayvon; a time for imagining post-racial transcendence, a time for recognizing obdurate injustice. As we mark the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington this month, as new generations surround the reflecting pool, we will ask whether we yet judge each other by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin.
PREFATORY NOTE: While researching a book on African-Americans and the anti-Stalinist left in the archives last summer, I stumbled across a striking and long-forgotten document, "Socialism and Sex," in a 1952 discussion bulletin, The Young Socialist. In one page, its author H. L. Small — almost surely a pseudonym — provided an elegant, concise exposition on behalf of destigmatizing consensual sexuality between same-sex lovers.