Dan Freeman’s elaborate plot against a racist society is set in motion by Senator Gilbert Hennington’s willingness to do anything to win reelection. Concluding that he cannot win without the black vote, he decides to campaign for the integration of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), figuring that the CIA is vulnerable after the Bay of Pigs and U-2 disasters. This cynical maneuvering for public attention works, and Hennington is reelected.
Freeman is one of the twenty-three black men chosen for training, with the understanding that only one will complete the program. The CIA plans to make the training so difficult that no one will last. Freeman, the only candidate without a typical middle-class African American background, survives because disadvantage has given him the strength of will to prevail. His biggest test comes in the hand-to-hand combat sessions taught by the racist Calhoun, whom he defeats and disgraces. Hennington himself is indifferent to the fruits of his protest. He had won his election, and for another six years he was safe.
Having learned how to be a spy, Freeman employs these skills in the CIA not toward his country’s enemies but against his employers, playing to their racist expectations and manipulating them. He is given a menial desk job at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, as “top secret reproduction section chief,” a job that simply entails operating a ditto machine. He is asked to give a tour to a Senate committee, including Hennington. After seemingly flattering Hennington, he is promoted to special assistant to the CIA director. His job was “to be black and conspicuous as the integrated Negro of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America. As long as he was there, one of an officer corps of thousands,...
(The entire section is 732 words.)