Let me begin by quoting from a recently discovered letter that my dad wrote to his father, while serving as a lieutenant in the army in occupied Japan. It was 1946 and he was twenty-two years old. Here, already, he is refusing to acquiesce to social conventions-as if they were somehow eternal truths. I quote: "There are so many things that I want to do, so many important things I want to read. I want to work with and for minority groups that must be educated to demand what are their natural rights. I might find that working up within the ranks of a labor union might be my method. One thing I do knowthat I enjoy myself most when I am working to better the lot of people that haven't found our democracy real.... You may feel that this so called idealism will wear off. Honestly I don't think it ever will or can for each day I realize how much there is that must be done." Later in the letter, he goes on to urge his father, who is in real estate, to "build some comfortable low cost housing units, with the proviso that Negro families and white will be able to participate as tenants."

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