Everything that follows assumes people of good will, who believe in equality of opportunity and rejoice when any person has a happy and successful life, outnumber everybody else.
Although rarely seen in the media, there is reason to believe such people are the majority.
A test of their ability to maintain balance is under way. Events in Missouri last week framed the situation.
Part One of the Civil Rights Movement was, for the most part, about removing actual barriers that had long been in place to deny black Americans the basics of American life -- voting, access to an equal education, housing of their choice, employment commensurate to their abilities, representation in public office, the simple experience of going to a movie, restaurant, entertainment event, park, restroom or having a drink of water without being told, implicitly, "You are not as good as us."
Part One was also about ending the overt violence and intimidation associated with preserving a separate and unequal society.
Part Two, so far, has far fewer visible components, far fewer quick or easy fixes and lots more shrill voices.
Part Two is focused on the twin -- and not mutually exclusive -- outcomes of preserving the identity of black Americans in racial and cultural terms and, at the same time, having black Americans fully engaged in and a part of mainstream life.
Part Two has no fire hoses, no attack dogs, no dousing "sit-in" participants with ketchup and mustard.
Part Two has violence -- hateful killing of blacks by whites and hateful killing of whites by blacks. But otherwise Part Two only has "indicators" of continuing inequality -- black defendants sentenced to longer terms, on average, for the same crimes, black joblessness higher, blacks under-represented in positions of authority.
Demands issued by the protesting students at the University of Missouri illustrate the transition.
Leading the list was that the system president, Tim Wolfe, handwrite and read aloud in public an apology, "acknowledge his white male privilege" and "recognize that systems of oppression exist." Other demands contained some measurable goals, but most were along the lines of "create and enforce (a) comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum."
Note the contrast. In 1962, President Kennedy called Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett and told Barnett to obey the court order ending university segregation. Period. That accomplished something specific. What would Wolfe (or Barnett) "admitting his while male privilege" accomplish?
Today, symbols and place names associated with slavery or segregation are termed "micro-aggression" and some who insist they be changed. Just about everything in Mississippi more than 50 years old is named for a segregationist. Missouri's capital is Jefferson City, named for Thomas Jefferson who fathered children with a slave. Would changing the name end oppression, erase privilege?
Anyway, Wolfe is gone and the Missou chancellor resigned Nov. 9. Significantly, nothing either of them did made them targets. The groundswell was fueled by Wolfe's failure to react to the protest group's satisfaction when a series of bad things happened. Being insensitive made him culpable. But it's not exactly clear what power he could have invoked to prevent the bad things or how he should have responded.
Back to Mississippi: A comment about the Nov. 3 vote on Initiative 42 was that "liberals" wanted it. That was followed by, "And the thing about liberals is they're never happy; as soon as they get one thing, they'll be complaining about something else."
That posture sums up the conversations that may intensify during Part Two. Those seeking to be both different and equal are likely to be met with suspicion, at a minimum, or scornful dismissal because they are "never happy."
Because so many Part Two challenges are seen as perception-centered, they may be met with a shoulder shrug. It's just true that regardless of how much good will most people have, it doesn't eliminate individual prejudice, much less individual violence.
Think about it. Requiring a student to sit in a calculus class doesn't mean he or she will learn a single cipher. Why should we think requiring all students to be schooled in racial sensitivity guarantees anything?
Racial oppression created deep wounds and scars in society. Most universities, including those in Mississippi, have long worked to promote diversity and inclusion. Wounds have closed; scars remain.
It's likely that everyone would love to say, "been there, fixed that," on the topic of race in America. It's common to wonder why people can't expend their time and their energies on other matters.
Part Two will test us all.
Charlie Mitchell, former editor of the Vicksburg Post, is assistant dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi. Write to him at Box 1, University, MS 38677. Email: email@example.com.