The Black Voice and the Racial Avalanche:

Unraveling America’s Color-Blind Complexity

When Shenandoah’s Lewis Mountain first welcomed visitors in 1936, Virginia was a “Jim Crow” state, its laws requiring segregation of the races. This created a dilemma for the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior. As managers scrambled to provide lodging, campgrounds, and other amenities, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes prodded them about their plans for Black visitors.

nd so the word white,” Langston Hughes writes, “comes to be unconsciously a symbol of all virtues. It holds for the children beauty, morality, and money.”

These words, written nearly 100 years ago, establishes an American perspective that hasn’t vanished. In 1926, the poet Langston Hughes…