Three-Fifths of a Man. (Signed)
“My primary concern is not with saving white America; I am concerned with liberating Black America.”
First Edition. Inscribed in the year of publication: “To Tom. Best Wishes. Floyd McKissick. June 69.”
Floyd Bixler McKissick (1922–1991), Civil Rights activist, lawyer, founder of Soul City, author; born in —and with strong roots to— North Carolina. McKissick experienced prejudice early in life and quickly became cognizant of racial inequality. His awareness led him to decide to study law, to fight the inequalities he witnessed and experienced. Studying prelaw, as a young college student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia he became W.E.B. Du Bois’ personal waiter and became influenced by Du Bois’ emphatic positions. Later, McKissick joined Bayard Rustin on a bus trip organized by the Congress of Racial Equality or CORE in 1947, the Journey of Reconciliation, to test the mettle of the Supreme Court’s decision requiring the integration of interstate travel.
Initially stymied by his efforts to get into the all-white law school of the University of North Carolina, McKissick, with the aid of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP, sued for admittance and won. Admitted to the bar, McKissick became closely aligned with local NAACP and CORE groups. In 1960 he provided counsel when students staged a sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro. Thereafter, McKissick represented many youths arrested for non-violence in their quest for equal rights. McKissick’s rights as a civil rights leader brought him into the sphere of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Stokely Carmichael, SNCC president.
After a stint as national director of CORE, McKissick sought to build an almost utopian-like community for African Americans he called Soul City. The community’s intentions were to sustain itself economically and politically. This endeavor, boldly undertaken, eventually failed.
In 1969, McKissick published 3/5 of a Man: “...his analysis of the race problem in the United States. McKissick believed the problem was primarily economic and that a redistribution of the nation’s wealth was needed to enable Black people to share in the nation’s prosperity. In the book, McKissick expressed his belief that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution already contained all the tools necessary to solve the nation’s racial problems; they only had to be enforced.”
Notably, the foreword of 3/5 of a Man is written by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. The Introduction’s first two sentences are powerful: “My primary concern is not with saving white America; I am concerned with liberating Black America.That is what compels me to write this book.”
Description: Three-Fifths of a Man. (Signed)
New York: MacMillan, 1969. 223pp. Small octavo in publisher’s hardcover binding. Dust jacket has an imperceptible, and very small, closed tear to rear panel. A near fine copy.
Blockson 4189. Gates, African American Lives pp582–583. IB100