Children of the Dream: The psychology of Black success

In Martin Luther King’s now legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, he hoped for a time when “little children… will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” It is these children, now come of age in the post-civil rights era, shaped by the belief that the key to their success would be in assimilating into the very culture that has for so long denied them opportunity and equality, who are the Children of the Dream. The authors define black success in the last thirty years as the realization of an American promise: access to equal opportunity. Using both an economic and an occupational framework to assess the phenomenon of achievement on a generation of blacks who grew up in an era defined by the concept of integration, they have focused on black baby boomers who grew up possessing something no generation of blacks has ever before experienced: a sense of entitlement. For more than two years, they traveled the country seeking out those black men and women who have achieved positions of power and influence in the American workplace. The thoughts and insights of this generation help illuminate just what it takes to be a successful black living in white America. Whatever their personal behavioral styles, the one common trait that emerged from all of the interviews presented here is that successful blacks are first and foremost affirmed and empowered by a positive sense of racial identity. They fully understand that as blacks they will encounter obstacles, prejudices, and inequities, but they never view their race as the liability or cause of the problem. They understand it is the perverse reactions of others to the black race that create the problem. Surprising and often controversial, Children of the Dream stands as vivid testimony to the increasingly complex world in which black Americans strive to succeed.

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