In 1875-1877 there were seven African American members of the U.S. House of Representatives and one African American U.S. Senator. African Americans represented 2 percent of the U.S. Congress. In 1969, a record 11 African Americans were elected to the U.S. Congress (ten Representatives and one U.S. Senator) and African Americans represented approximately 2 percent of the U.S. Congress. (From 1897-1901 there had been only one African American member of the U.S. Congress, none for the next 28 years, only one in 1945 and two until 1955.) The Twentieth Century was in to its seventh decade before African Americans began to regain voting rights at local, statewide, and national levels that had been stripped away following Reconstruction.
What lessons would a historian's review of the systematic and continuous efforts to deny or suppress African American voting rights yield? Does a political analysis of white voting patterns in statewide and national elections of African American over the last thirty years provide more salient insights to the prospects of the election of African Americans for future national leadership? Does an analysis of Obama's presidential primary and national campaigns significantly affect historical or political perspectives on the probability of future successful candidacies for statewide and national office by African Americans?
Greggory Keith Spence
Greggory Keith Spence is a Professor in Professional Practice at The New School.