"I think I must write a book. I am almost afraid to undertake a book so early and with so little experience in composition. But it has been a cherished dream, and I feel an influence that I cannot resist calling me to the task. . . . The object of my writing would not be so much the elevation of the colored people as the elevation of the whites--for I consider the unjust spirit of caste which is so insidious as to pervade a whole nation, and so powerful as to subject a whole race and all connected with it to scorn and social ostracism--I consider this a barrier to the moral progress of the American people: and I would be one of the first to head a determined, organized crusade against it.
--Charles W. Chesnutt, written May 1880 in his journal at age 22

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