African-American Mayors

African-American Mayors : Race, Politics, and the American City

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On November 7, 1967, the voters of Cleveland, Ohio, and Gary, Indiana, elected the nation's first African-American mayors to govern their cities. Ten years later more than two hundred black mayors held office, and by 1993 sixty-seven major urban centers, most with majority-white populations, were headed by African Americans. Once in office, African-American mayors faced vexing challenges. In large and small cities from the Sunbelt to the Rustbelt, black mayors assumed office during economic downturns and confronted the intractable problems of decaying inner cities, white flight, a dwindling tax base, violent crime, and diminishing federal support for social programs. Many encountered hostility from their own parties, city councils, and police departments; others worked against long-established power structures dominated by local business owners or politicians. Still others, while trying to respond to multiple demands from a diverse constituency, were viewed as traitors by blacks expecting special attention from a leader of their own race. All struggled with the contradictory mandate of meeting the increasing needs of poor inner-city residents while keeping white businesses from fleeing to the suburbs. This is the first comprehensive treatment of the complex phenomenon of African-American mayors in the nation's major urban centers. Offering a diverse portrait of leadership, conflict, and almost insurmountable obstacles, this volume assesses the political alliances that brought black mayors to office as well as their accomplishments-notably, increased minority hiring and funding for minority businesses-and the challenges that marked their careers. Mayors profiled include Carl B. Stokes (Cleveland), Richard G. Hatcher (Gary), "Dutch" Morial (New Orleans), Harold Washington (Chicago), Tom Bradley (Los Angeles), Marion Barry (Washington, D.C.), David Dinkins (New York City), Coleman Young (Detroit), and a succession of black mayors in Atlanta (Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, and Bill Campbell). Probing the elusive economic dimension of black power, "African-American Mayors" demonstrates how the same circumstances that set the stage for the victories of black mayors exaggerated the obstacles they faced.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 158 x 234.2 x 26.7mm | 612.11g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252026349
  • 9780252026348

Table of contents

Running for office : African-American mayors from 1967 to 1996 / David R. Colburn -- Black political power and its limits : Gary Mayor Richard G. Hatcher's administration, 1968-87 / James B. Lane -- Carl Stokes : Mayor of Cleveland / Leonard N. Moore -- Harold and Dutch revisited : a comparative look at the first black mayors of Chicago and New Orleans / Arnold R. Hirsch -- Mayor David Dinkins and the politics of race in New York City / Roger Biles -- Tom Bradley and the politics of race / Heather R. Parker -- African-American mayors and governance in Atlanta / Ronald H. Bayor -- Protest and power in Washington, D.C. : the troubled legacy of Marion Barry / Howard Gillette, Jr. -- Rethinking the collapse of postwar liberalism : the rise of Mayor Coleman Young and the politics of race in Detroit / Heather Ann Thompson.show more

Review quote

"This anthology meets an important need as a resource for the analysis of leadership problems, skills, and backgrounds of the more prominent black regional leadership in the second half of the 20th century. Based largely on original research, these essays delve into the realities of African American communities and their efforts to cope with neglected urban environments by sponsoring candidates to the executive branch of local government." -- Choice "[Adler and Colburn] begin with useful overviews of mayoral campaigns and administrations. Their contributors follow with eight well-executed chapters on ten big-city black mayors... A well-crafted collection." -- Michael W. Homel, Journal of American History "A welcome addition to the literature for those who teach urban politics, urban history, or any classes that deal with the struggle for political power by racial minorities... Adler's comprehensive discussion of the variables that help to explain the advance and limitations of African American political power in American cities is alone worth the price of admission. -- Richard A. Keiser, H-Urban, H-Net Reviews ADVANCE PRAISE "This excellent new collection of original essays on black big-city mayors provides essential historical perspective on racial change in late twentieth-century urban politics. Deeply researched and well written, this volume represents a major step forward in recent urban political history."- Raymond A. Mohl, editor of The Making of Urban America "Going beyond a discussion of the election of black officeholders to survey their experiences in governing, these clear, concise essays examine the factors that shaped the fortunes of black mayors trying to run their communities." - Steven F. Lawson, author of Running for Freedom: Civil Rights and Black Politics in America since 1941"A welcome addition to the literature for those who teach urban politics, urban history, or any classes that deal with the struggle for political power by racial minorities... Adler's comprehensive discussion of the variables that help to explain the advance and limitations of African American political power in American cities is alone worth the price of admission. -- Richard A. Keiser, H-Urban, H-Net Reviewsshow more

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