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What Would Martin Luther King Think of HBO's 'Confederate'?

A 50-year-old dispute over a William Styron novel foreshadowed today’s racial controversies.

What if the South had successfully seceded from the Union and slavery endured there to this day? That is the question HBO will explore in “Confederate,” an alternative-history series to be created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the men behind “Game of Thrones.”

The writers assumed the show’s announcement two years before its debut would spark frenzied excitement, but almost immediately after the press release hit last week, applause was drowned out by cries of racism and “cultural appropriation.” Roxane Gay, an...

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