This is the first comprehensive study of African American politics from the end of the 1960s civil rights era to the present. Not an optimistic book, it concludes that the black movement has been almost wholly encapsulated into mainstream institutions, coopted, and marginalized. As a result, the author argues, African American leadership has become largely irrelevant in the development of organizations, strategies, and programs that would address the multifaceted problems of race in the post-civil rights era. Meanwhile, the core black community has become increasingly segregated, and its society, economy, culture, and institutions of governance and uplift have decayed. In exhaustive detail Smith traces this sad state of affairs to certain internal attributes of African American political culture and institutional processes, and to the structure of American politics and its economic and cultural underpinnings. Sure to be controversial, this book challenges both liberal and conservative notions of the black political struggle in the United States. It will serve as a major reference for academic study and a point of departure for political activists.