These days black unity is a cherished ideal rather than the fact of life that it used to be. Part of the reason is that, since the 1960s and the end of Jim Crow, blacks have lost the thread of their own story. As we have scattered out from our compact communities, a freedom narrative that was once clear and urgent has become muddy and uninspiring, replaced with tons of downward-trending data and statistics that move no one.
Note: An earlier version of this post reversed the order of Stokes' judicial and diplomatic service. Thanks to eagle-eyed reader Dick Peery for alerting us to the error.