I read Jessie Benton’s letter in the New York Times Book Review. My parents Leah and Vincent Campanella (a WPA artist) were friends and neighbors of the Bentons in Kansas City. In the years I was growing up there, the 1950s and 1960s, I had several racist teachers and heard racist remarks frequently. Tom would have been referred to as an “n — lover” because he painted black people. He thought black Americans worthy of portrayal and included them in the artistic portrayal of American history. I believe the author of the original article to which Jessie and others have responded felt Tom’s portrayal of blacks was insulting or cartoon-like. But knowing the artist and the times, I would disagree. Meanwhile, racism does exist and is a serious problem. Let’s focus attention there.

Tura Campanella Cook
Austin, Tex.