With the election of Barack Obama, the icons of the 1960s civil rights movement were given another moment in the sun. The first black congressmen, who took office during Reconstruction in the nineteenth century, remained largely in the shadows. In Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen, Philip Dray gives these men their proper place, as pioneers in the story of African American liberation. Dray, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, has created a very timely book as well as an exceptionally good read.
With the U.S. in the grip of an economic crisis that has some comparisons with the Great Depression, many people have called for another New Deal. It is now an especially good time to examine parts of the New Deal, particularly the successful Federal Arts Project (FAP) of the Works Progress Administration (WPA).