Minchin, Timothy J.
December 2008
Australasian Journal of American Studies;2008, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Between January 1995 and September 1998, arsonists destroyed over 200 black churches, a wave of attacks that attracted considerable attention. Drawing on the papers of the newly-opened William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, this article provides an original analysis of the fires and highlights how whites and blacks reacted very differently to them. Most African Americans viewed the blazes as a reflection of racial hatred whereas whites tended to downplay the existence of racial problems. These diverse reactions highlighted how racial divisions were still evident during the Clinton years, despite the President's efforts to encourage reconciliation and create a 'Bridge to One America.' Although the Clinton administration reacted with some vigour to the fires, this article shows that its broader efforts to address racial divisions achieved little.


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