- - Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In his July 9 column “A primer on race,” Thomas Sowell uses Jason Riley’s new book “Please Stop Helping Us” to make the point that governmental “affirmative action” policies hurt black Americans far more often than they help them. Mr. Sowell could have gone back much further in history to make that point, all the way back to the 1860s.

That was the time of the great Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became a popular writer (his autobiography “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave” was a best-seller), sought-after lecturer, adviser to President Lincoln and a leading abolitionist of the age.

Douglass once said: “Everybody has asked the question ‘What shall we do with the Negro?’ I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us!” He added, “If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!”

BRUCE G. KAUFFMANN

Alexandria