Not surprisingly, this attack has become more common in the 45 years since I was first called a racist.
The incident occurred after I reported the difficult negotiations with a potential tenant for a hotel the church owned. It happened in New York where one of the relatives of the famous Helmsleys and I were negotiating a lease that I demanded include a pro-black hiring policy. The other side threatened to pull out of the deal. The office was on the 49th floor of the Chrysler building. I took a small statue of Lincoln off the nearby desk and was about to throw it out the window. The other side changed their mind and signed the lease.
When I told the story, Cecil, said ‘you will still be called a racist because you’re white.’
I did much more in the Civil Rights movement including winning the most successful affirmative action class action case in America.
Yet, as Cecil said, I will always be called a ‘racist’. I understand that.
I also know that on another occasion where my help had been crucial to some success the church needed, Cecil and I went into his office with his coterie of black hangers-on. He closed the door for a solemn ceremony where he pronounced me an ‘official nigger’. We had a bottle of wine and all drank from it.
So, I’m a racist.