Stephan Thernstrom, 56, a professor at Harvard University for 25 years, is considered one of the pre-eminent scholars of the history of race relations in America. He has tenure. He has won prizes and published numerous articles and four books and edited the Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. For several years, Thernstrom and another professor, Bernard Bailyn, taught an undergraduate lecture course on the history of race relations in the United States called ‘Peopling of America’. Bailyn covered the Colonial era. Thernstrom took the class up to the present.
Both professors are regarded as very much in the academic mainstream, their views grounded in extensive research on their subject, and both have solid liberal democratic credentials. But all of a sudden, in the fall of 1987, articles began to appear