Searching for the Promised Land: An African American's Optimistic Odyssey

Gary Franks, Author
Gary Franks, Author ReganBooks $24 (0p) ISBN 978-0-06-039156-0
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This relatively short book combines a memoir with policy arguments by Franks, the Connecticut Republican who in 1990 became Congress's first black conservative. Franks's unpretentious reflections describe a poor, religious family that prized education, vague discomfort with black disdain for bourgeois values at Yale, a quick rise through corporate America and a plunge into local politics. The idealistic author disapproves of racial gerrymandering, which is supported by both fellow Republicans and black Democrats, and argues that the Congressional Black Caucus, which once tried to expel him, is better served-as is the African American community-by a variety of voices. He cogently states his opposition to the Million Man March and his support for limited affirmative action-outreach, plus goals and timetables. He also floats some of his own ideas: he supports tax deductions for charities that foster family development and would like to see welfare converted to a loan program and safeguarded by the use of debit cards. But his plan for job creation-cut taxes, ease regulation-is mostly Republican boilerplate, and his credo-if everyone lived by the Ten Commandments, misery and despair would vanish-suggests that Franks should think more about the depth of American inequality. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
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