A minority tendency of the black middle class has defected to the Republican Far Right, for purposes of career advancement and economic gain. These "race traitors" have become active opponents of the black community's interests.

In the field of education, the leading race traitor is Bush's Secretary of Education Roderick Raynor Paige. Born in 1933 in Monticello, Mississippi, Paige received his B.A. degree from the historically black Jackson State University, and subsequently his doctorate in physical education at Indiana University. Spending part of his professional life as a football coach and college athletic director, Paige served as dean of Texas Southern University's School of Education from 1984 to 1990. Elected to Houston's school board in 1989, Paige was named superintendent in 1994, the same year George W. Bush won the election as Texas governor.

Paige's record as Houston's superintendent emphasized classroom teachers being forced to "teach to the test," reinforcing memorization and rote learning rather than actual comprehension. Paige was also responsible, according to education scholar Linda McNeil of Rice University, of a "systematic effort to drive out students who appeared unable to make the grade." As Houston's school superintendent, Paige also initiated a limited voucher program, using state education funds to permit children from the city's lowest performing schools to attend private but nonsectarian schools.

Over the past two decades, much of Paige's career advancement was owed directly to the Bush family. In early 1980, Paige volunteered to support the senior Bush's effort to win the Republican Party's presidential nomination. When Reagan won the nomination and asked Bush to join his ticket, Paige ended up as a delegate to the 1980 Republican National Convention. Paige's closest associates suggest that his decision to join the Republican Party was "opportunist"-and Paige doesn't disagree. "I wouldn't discount that," Paige stated to the Washington Post. "In fact, some of my friends, we've discussed it and said this: 'The lines are shorter.'"

In the field of foreign affairs, the leading race traitor, hands down, is Condoleeza Rice, Bush's National Security Adviser. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1954, Rice grew up under Jim Crow segregation. She earned her B.A. degree at the University of Denver in 1974, followed quickly by her M.A. from Notre Dame in 1975 and her doctorate at Denver in 1981. Rice was hired as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford University also in 1981, and she left the Democratic Party to become a Republican the next year. Rice's partisan political conversion during the Reagan-Bush years accelerated her career advancement. Rice served on the National Security Council, and returned to Stanford when in 1993 she became the first woman and first African American to become the university's provost.

It didn't take long before the offers poured in. Rice was briefly touted as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in California. She became a board member of the Chevron Corporation, where she so impressed and charmed her fellow board members that they actually named an oil supertanker after her-"the Condoleeza." At Stanford, she earned a reputation for cutting personnel and reducing university services with minimal faculty input. When challenged on her failure to promote diversity in university hiring, Rice publicly repudiated her previous support for affirmative action when she had been a member of the faculty. "I'm the chief academic officer now," Rice asserted to the press. "I say in principle that I don't believe in and in fact will not apply affirmative action (in university appointments)."

Rice's emergence as a major black figure in the Republican Party occurred at the 2000 National Convention. In her convention address, she justified her membership in the party because "the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register" her father, but "the Republicans did. I want you to know," Rice declared to the cheering predominantly white audience, "that my father has never forgotten that day, and neither have I." The fact that the majority of these white racist Democrats two decades later comprised the South's Republican Party was conveniently ignored.

Rice continued: "I joined the party for different reasons. I found a party that sees me as an individual, not as part of a group. I found a party that puts family first. I found a party that has love of liberty at its core. And I found a party that believes that peace begins with strength." For good measure, Rice also opposes all gun control laws, describing herself as "a Second Amendment absolutist."

The Bush administration's most prominent African American, Secretary of State Colin Powell, falls far short of the race traitor category, because he's too principled. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Powell attended a working class school, the City University of New York, and joined the army as a second lieutenant in 1958. After a thirty-plus year career in the military, Powell served as the commander of the Army's Fifth Corps in Western Europe, national security adviser under Reagan, and subsequently George Bush's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the youngest ever.

It's true that Powell earned millions from his speeches, at $75,000 per appearance, and received a $6 million advance for his 1995 autobiography. But it also is true that Powell's America's Promise: The Alliance for Youth started in 1998, raised $300 million for youth community-based programs. Powell had the integrity to speak before the Republican National Convention in defense of affirmative action: "Some of our party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn affirmative action that helped a few thousand kids get an education, but you hardly hear a whimper when it's affirmative action for lobbyists who load our federal tax code with preferences for special interests." Powell serves a president who joined the Texas Air National Guard to avoid serving in Vietnam, a president who advances a domestic policy agenda that in many respects he privately opposes.

Powell is the last of a long line of African-American liberal Republicans, from the historical tradition of Frederick Douglass, through William T. Coleman, Secretary of Transportation in the Ford administration, and baseball star Jackie Robinson. The great dilemma for Powell and the few remnants of the black managerial and professional elite is that the core of their party implacably opposes blacks' interests. Even conservative black commentator Armstrong Williams admitted in late 2000: "white people don't choose their political affiliation based on affirmative action; countless black people do. . . . the only thing that the Republicans accomplish by digging their heels in opposition to the affirmative action issue, is the widespread alienation of black voters." White supremacy is a central component of the core ideology of modern Republicanism, and one thousand Colin Powells would not change that reality.

At the end of the day, the conservative race traitors have nothing to offer the African-American community are symbols of personal upward mobility without the substance of collective empowerment and group development. There is no longer a sense of allegiance or obligation that links these public figures to black civil society. In his 1972 study Black Politics: A Theoretical and Structural Analysis, Hanes Walton, Jr., observed: "Though the appointment of blacks to high level federal positions does not improve the economic, educational, or political condition of the black masses, they are nevertheless impressive to black people. Such appointments revitalize the American dream and reawaken the black community to the possibility that with significant individual achievement, the 'American dream' is still workable. These positions, however, are usually more symbolic, honorific, and promotional than substantial and meaningful."

Dr. Manning Marable is Professor of History and Political Science, and the Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York. "Along the Color Line" is istributed free of charge to over 350 publications throughout the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Marable's column is also available on the Internet at