Many of the books on race relations in the U.
S. focus on the problems past, present, and future. These books are certainly important. In We Had a Dream: A Tale of the Struggles for Integration in America, however, Rolling Stone writer Howard Kohn acknowledges the problems but reports on what has been happening, often positively, in Prince George's County, Maryland. As one resident says, That's how integration succeeds best, on a personal level. And Kohn relates the stories of individuals who have coped, in quite different ways, with integration.
These stories of families in everyday situations who are trying to come to terms with major changes in their lives will sound familiar to many of us. Kohn, perhaps best known for his Who Killed Karen Silkwood?, writes that he began the book with two biases. One is that good people matter. Fever and adrenaline aren't always on the side of people with guns . . . His second bias is that individual actions coalesce into social change. Those who wonder how changes in social attitudes come about and how difficult it can be will want to read this powerful book.
Roger Bishop is a regular contributor to BookPage.