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In Chapter 11 (page 286 of my edition of the book), Zinn quotes the famous historian C. Vann Woodward as saying that the two races were never closer than they were "during the Populist struggles." Zinn does not dispute this statement.
However, Zinn does point out that there was a great deal of racial tension even among the Populists. The Populists were ambivalent on the issue of race. For example, he points out that a Populist-controlled legislature in Georgia passed more anti-black bills than any other legislature had in a single year. Yet, in 1896, the Populists in Georgia had a platform that denounced lynching. Some Populist groups had large black memberships while others did not.
The record, then, is mixed. Even so, Zinn seems to agree with Woodward that the two races came closer together during the Populist era than they ever had before.
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