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Paulette Coleman

Race, Politics, and Government

Congressional Black Caucus Members (110th U.S. Congress)

Government Officials


The history of African American participation in the political process is complex and includes multiple responses to the deliberate and systematic exclusion of African Americans from American life. In colonial times, most African Americans were slaves and thus denied the basic rights of citizenship. Legally, they were prohibited from voting and other means of political expression. Though they could not participate formally in the political process, slaves found other avenues for political expression including various forms of resistance.

A small number of free African Americans were occasionally allowed to vote in certain places. There is evidence that some free African Americans voted in South Carolina’s 1701 gubernatorial election. In the early eighteenth century, African Americans petitioned the courts and political leaders for legal protection but with limited success.

Prior to the Revolutionary War, political participation by African Americans was rare. Though slave revolts were an exception, the revolutionary fervor of the times did not go unnoticed by the African Americans. The revolutionary rhetoric resonated with the slaves and served as a catalyst for the filing of petitions with state legislatures and even with Congress to protest slavery. During the Revolutionary War, some freedmen saw military service as a way to be included as citizens in the new nation.

The American Colonization Society, founded by African Americans in 1816, promoted emigration to Africa. Members of this emigration movement eventually established the African nation of Liberia. Meanwhile, others emigrated to Canada, Central and South America, and island nations such as Haiti.

In 1830, free African Americans in Philadelphia convened the National Negro Convention. For two decades the national convention movement continued its development as a mass self-help movement involving African American churches, fraternal organizations, and mutual aid societies. The more militant participants became dominant in the convention by the 1850s. As a result, there was a growing dual determination to build African American institutions while demanding the rights of full participation as citizens of the United States.

The abolitionist movement of the 1830s was part of a multiracial quest for African American emancipation and equality. In addition to campaigning for civil rights through traditional legal means, the abolitionists took a daring step by operating the Underground Railroad system, a covert network of safe havens that assisted fugitive slaves in their flight to freedom in the North. Approximately 50,000 slaves are believed to have escaped to the Northern United States and Canada through the Underground Railroad prior to the Civil War.

In the 1850s, new efforts were made to exclude African Americans from citizenship with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. Similarly, the Kansas-Nebraska Act attempted to extend slavery into new territories. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Dred Scott case held that African Americans had no rights as U.S. citizens and that a state could not forbid slavery. These legal decisions convinced large numbers of African Americans and others that radical action was necessary. Among them were: Martin Delany and Henry McNeal Turner, who advocated separation from the white race; and John Brown, who believed nothing short of a violent overthrow of the slave system would yield any meaningful results. Frederick Douglass, who opposed efforts like those suggested by Brown, pushed for African Americans to seek rights through assimilation. The ultimate compromise between the two factions was proposed in 1853 when the Colored National Convention in Rochester, New York, advanced the idea of a separate African American society on American soil.

The Union victory in the Civil War and the abolition of slavery under President Abraham Lincoln consolidated African American political support in the Republican Party. This affiliation lasted throughout the end of the nineteenth century and into the early decades of the twentieth century—even after the Republicans began to loosen the reins on the Democratic South in 1876 after the last federal troops were removed.

During the Reconstruction era, from 1865 to 1877, African Americans made significant gains towards increased participation in the political process. Both the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1870 and the Fourteenth Amendment—ratified by the States in 1868—to the Constitution were intended to provide full citizenship with all its rights and privileges to all African Americans. For the first time, Black males could participate legally in the electoral system. Among the rights that had been denied prior to these acts were the right to sue and be sued, the right to own real and personal property, and the right to testify and present evidence in legal proceedings. The Fifteenth Amendment, ratified in 1870, granted African American men the right to vote. The voting rights amendment failed, however, in its attempts to guarantee African Americans the real freedom to choose at the ballot box. Poll taxes, literacy tests, gerrymandered districts, and grandfather clauses were established by some state and local governments to deny African Americans their right to vote. The poll tax, for example, would not be declared unconstitutional until 1964, with the passage of the Twenty-fourth Amendment. Black codes also restricted the newly won freedom of African Americans by controlling their ability to move about the country, in spite of the fact that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 outlawed racial discrimination in hotels, inns, theaters, and other places of entertainment and public transportation.

Even though these legalized forms of exclusion presented obstacles to African American advancement in the politics of the United States, African Americans were able

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to achieve a degree of political participation during the Reconstruction era shortly after the end of the Civil War. Between 1879 and 1901 more than 1,000 African Americans served in local and state elected offices including a governor and six lieutenant governors. For example, Richmond, Virginia had thirty-three black city council members between 1871 and 1896. In Atlanta, William Finch was elected to the city council. Likewise, Holland Thompson was also elected to the city council of Montgomery, Alabama.

During that same time, there were 20 African American U.S. Congressmen and two U.S. Senators. In 1869, Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett became the first African American diplomat when he was appointed consul general to Haiti. In 1870 the Mississippi legislature elected Hiram R. Revels to represent the state in the U.S. Senate after that state was readmitted to the Union. Serving just over a year, Revels was the first African American U.S. senator. Blanche K. Bruce became the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate for a full six-year term in 1874. P. B. S. Pinchback won a U.S. Senate seat in 1873, but a vote by the other senators ousted him in 1876. The same thing happened one year earlier when, in 1875, Pinchback was removed from a House seat to which he had been elected in 1872.

A colorful individual, Pinchback made enemies because his strong support of equal rights for African Americans and a gambling habit. Pinchback was the nation’s first African American governor. Named lieutenant governor of Louisiana in 1871, Pinchback became acting governor after the impeachment of Governor Warmouth on bribery charges. Pinchback served just 43 days and when the new election was held, Pinchback was defeated.

In the mid-1870s when the northern political and military presence withdrew from the South, black political participation diminished considerably. Voting fraud, voter intimidation, redistricting, and the transition from ward to at-large elections were among the factors that all but eliminated black participation in electoral politics. There were some exceptions, however, and among them were the election of George White of North Carolina to Congress from 1897 to 1901. Charles L. Mitchell and Edward G. Walker of Boston were elected to the state legislature in 1866. This was significant because they were the first African Americans elected to office from an urban area. In 1883, George L. Ruffin, a member of the Boston’s Common Council, became the first African American appointed to the Massachusetts judiciary.

Reconstruction came to an end in 1877 after considerable controversy about the 1876 presidential election. Rutherford Hayes, the Republican, claimed victory based on the electoral college vote, while Democratic candidate Samuel Tilden made a claim to the presidency due to the popular vote. Furthermore, the election results from Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana were disputed. Hayes was declared the winner, but the controversy weakened the federal government’s role in Southern politics and the civil rights process. As the government in Washington, D.C., withdrew support for the progressive policies on race instituted during the era of Reconstruction, African Americans witnessed a swift decline in their political power and an increased infringement on their civil rights. This assault was expressed in various ways such as the Jim Crow laws, voting rights abuses, and physical violence, including nearly 3,500 lynchings between 1889 and 1922. The lynchings occurred primarily in the southern states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, but also in some northern cities. After Reconstruction and with the elimination of African Americans from most southern electoral politics by 1889, most Blacks were fighting against disenfranchisement in the South and seeking Congressional support to prevent violations of their hard-won constitutional rights. In the post-Reconstruction period, there were more African Americans appointed to government or political posts than were elected.

During the nineteenth century most African Americans were supporters of the Republican Party, but as the century drew to a close, a backlash occurred. In the 1890s, a group of white Republicans calling themselves the “Lily Whites” were heavily opposed to rights for African Americans and thus resented the presence of the so-called “Black and Tan Republicans” in their party. African Americans migrating from the south to the north and were becoming increasingly disenchanted with the Republican Party and its efforts to gain support from conservative white voters. Further there was no support from the Republican Party when issues of race arose in northern cities. African Americans began to question what were the benefits of supporting Republican Party and its candidates, although they remained remain locked into a pattern of almost automatic support of Republicans until the late 1920s.

In 1900, Southern Blacks were disenfranchised and northern Blacks were not able to wield any significant political influence. During this period, Black political power was almost non-existent with the exception of business and political leaders such as Robert Church, Jr. in Memphis, Charles Anderson in New York City, and educator, Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee, Alabama. By the turn of the twentieth century, Booker T. Washington had gained prominence as the chief spokesperson on behalf of African Americans and had considerable influence over Republican Party patronage. Recognized throughout the United States as a prominent African American leader and mediator, he advocated for accommodation as the preferred method of attaining civil rights. His leading opponents included journalist Thomas T. Fortune, an African American historian, and scholar W. E. B. Du Bois.

Fortune, who had founded the New York Freeman newspaper in 1884, attempted to create a national political organization for African Americans. His short-lived, Chicago-based National Afro-American League was aimed at remedying the disenfranchisement of African Americans. Du Bois, on the other hand, felt it was necessary to take more aggressive measures in the fight for equality. In addition to participating in the first Pan-African Conference (London) in 1900, in 1905 he spear-headed the Niagara Movement, a radical African American intellectual forum. Members of the group merged with white progressives four years later to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). After Washington’s death in 1915, the NAACP became a greater force in the struggle for racial reform.

Women played a significant role at the turn of the century as well, coming together as the National Association of Colored Women in 1896. The female activists met with success in their agitation for rights. Standouts included NACW founder Mary Church Terrell and NACW presidents Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary McLeod Bethune. Chief among their causes were speaking out against lynching and the promotion of women’s rights. Arguably, ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women of all races the right to vote in 1920, did not make that much of a practical difference in the lives of African American women.

The migration of large numbers of Blacks from the south to northern and Midwestern cities couples with their residential concentration meant potential political power for African Americans. For example, Oscar DePriest, an African-American Republican was elected to Chicago’s Board of Alderman when a predominantly Black district was created there. Later in 1928, DePriest was elected the first northern Black congressman.

Racist attitudes, combined with the desperate economic pressures of the Great Depression, exerted a profound effect on politics nationwide during the 1930s. Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidency in 1932 with his reform agenda. He attracted African American voters with his “New Deal” relief and recovery programs. In addition to benefits from the socio-economic programs of the New Deal, the growing activism of labor unions, and the consolidation of machine politics in big cities caused many African Americans to become aligned with the Democratic Party. For 70 years African Americans had been faithful to the Republican Party, but their belief in Roosevelt and his New Deal led many to switch to the Democratic Party. African Americans, as well as others benefited from the housing and employment opportunities that came about as a result of Roosevelt’s programs. As beneficiaries of these new programs, African Americans saw a direct link between their votes for the Democratic Party and jobs, housing, and other benefits to their community. By 1936, most African Americans had switched to the Democratic Party. Democrats did not fully embrace a civil rights agenda, but offered more symbolic support for African Americans’ demands for greater equality.

The Communist Party of the United States of America offered an alternative for African Americans alienated by the Republicans and the Democrats. White Communists actively recruited African Americans to their ranks, supporting civil rights through demonstrations and boycotts. They even selected an African American, James Ford, as their vice presidential candidate during the U.S. presidential campaigns of 1932, 1936, and 1940.

World War II ushered in an era of unswerving commitment to the fight for civil rights. As African Americans migrated to the North in search of jobs, several urban entities gained new concentrations of African Americans. In cities such as Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, and Cleveland, African Americans had such a presence that they swayed the course of local politics by

the strength of their vote. At times the African American vote affected the balance of power on the national front as well.

Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was elected the first African American member of the New York City Council in 1941. By 1944, Powell had gained a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a House member, he challenged a white racist representative who refused to sit next to him. During his tenure he also initiated legislation against lynching, poll taxes, and discriminatory job hiring practices. The so-called “Powell Amendment” referred to his attempts to tack anti-discriminatory measures onto each and every measure that came before the House.

African Americans were advancing in all areas—national associations, political organizations, unions, the federal branch of the U.S. government, and the nation’s court system. Civil rights became a national political issue when the Democratic National Convention adopted a strong civil rights platform that prompted protests by the white party faithful from the South. After the election of President Harry S. Truman, he contributed much to African American advancement by desegregating the military, establishing fair employment practices in the federal service, and beginning the trend toward integration in public accommodations and housing. In 1949, Rep. William L. Dawson became the first African American to head a standing committee of Congress when he was elected chairman of House Expenditures. Meanwhile, the civil rights proposals of the late 1940s came to fruition a decade later during President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration. Eisenhower’s administrative aide, E. Frederic Morrow, was the first African American granted an executive position among White House staff.

After World War II, the African American populations in urban northern communities continued to grow as the white population moved from urban centers to the suburbs. In 1953, Hulan Jack, a New York State assemblyman was elected Manhattan borough president. When the U. S. Supreme Court struck down the “white primary,” which denied many African Americans the right to vote, more blacks registered and they applied increased pressure for full voting rights. As black political power grew, efforts to neutralize it included at-large elections, annexation of suburbs with urban centers, merging black districts with white areas, and various forms of gerry-mandering to dilute black voting strength.

The Civil Rights Act of 1957, also known as the Voting Rights Act of 1957, was the first major piece of civil rights legislation passed by Congress in more than eight decades. It expanded the role of the federal government in civil rights matters and established the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to monitor the protection of African Americans’ civil rights. The commission determined that unfair voting practices persisted in the South with African Americans still being denied the right to vote in certain Southern districts. Because of these abuses, a second act was passed in 1960 that offered more protection to African Americans at the polls. In 1965, the third Voting Rights Act was passed to eliminate literacy tests and safeguard African Americans’ rights during the voter registration process.

The post-war movement for African American rights yielded slow but significant advances in school desegregation and suffrage despite bold opposition from some whites. By the mid- to late-1950s, as the African American fight for equality and progress gained momentum, white resistance continued to mount. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. took the helm of the fledgling civil rights movement and launched a multiracial effort to eliminate segregation and achieve equality for blacks through nonviolent resistance. The movement began with the boycott of city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, and by 1960, became a national crusade for black rights. During the course of the next decade, civil rights workers organized economic boycotts of racist businesses and attracted front-page news coverage with African American voter registration drives and anti-segregationist demonstrations, marches, and sit-ins. Bolstered by the new era of independence that was sweeping through subSaharan Africa, the movement for African American equality gained international attention.

Racial tensions in the South reached violent levels with the emergence of new white supremacist organizations and an increase in Ku Klux Klan activity. Racially motivated discrimination in all arenas—from housing to employment—rose as Southern resistance to the Civil Rights movement intensified. By the late 1950s, racist hatred had once again degenerated into brutality and bloodshed with African Americans being murdered for the cause, and their white killers escaping punishment.

Democrat John F. Kennedy gained the African American vote in the 1960 presidential elections. His domestic agenda espoused an expansion of federal action in civil rights cases, especially through the empowerment of the U.S. Department of Justice on voting rights issues and the establishment of the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. Civil rights organizations continued their peaceful assaults against barriers to integration, but African American resistance to racial injustice was escalating. The protest movement heated up in 1961 when groups such as the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) organized “freedom rides” that defied segregationist policies on public transportation systems.

Major demonstrations were staged in Birmingham, Alabama, under the leadership of King. Cries for equality met with harsh police action against the African American crowds. In 1963, Mississippi’s NAACP leader, Medgar Evers, was assassinated. Meanwhile, on August 28, 1963, more than 200,000 black and white demonstrators convened at the Lincoln Memorial to push for the passage of a new civil rights bill. This historic “March on Washington,” highlighted by King’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, brought the promise of stronger legislation from the president.

After Kennedy’s assassination that November, President Johnson finally initiated an aggressive civil rights program. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sparked violence throughout the country, including turmoil in the cities of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. The Ku Klux Klan stepped up its practice of intimidation with venomous racial slurs, cross burnings, firebombings, and acts of murder.

The call for racial reform in the South became louder early in 1965. King, who had been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to race relations, commanded the spotlight for his key role in the 1965 Freedom March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. African Americans were disheartened, however, by the lack of true progress in securing civil rights. Despite the legislative gains made over two decades, economic prospects for African Americans were bleak.

African American discontent over economic, employment, and housing discrimination reached frightening proportions in the summer of 1965, with rioting in the Watts section of Los Angeles. This event marked a major change in the temper of the civil rights movement. Nearly one decade of nonviolent resistance had failed to remedy the racial crisis in the United States and a more militant reformist element began to emerge. “Black Power” became the rallying cry of the middle and late 1960s, and more and more civil rights groups adopted all-black leadership. Groups such as the Black Panther Party emerged on the scene promoting black self-determination, militant resistance, and self-defense. The Black Panther Party operated free breakfast and educational programs in their communities with a special emphasis on children and youth. King’s assassination in 1968 only compounded the nation’s explosive racial situation. The new generation of African American leaders seemed to champion independence and separatism for African Americans rather than integration into white American society.

Although many African Americans despaired of winning justice within the American political system during this time of turmoil, there were some who continued to work within the system on behalf of their brethren. Through the 1960s, some prominent African Americans served as members of Congress. Shirley Chisholm was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1968, making her the first African American woman to serve in Congress. The next year, Charles Diggs Jr., a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, founded the Democratic Select Committee, a group comprised of the eight other African American members of Congress. Two years later they renamed themselves the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Small gains were also made with the elections of Carl Stokes in 1967 and Richard Hatcher in 1972 as the first African American mayors of Cleveland, Ohio, and Gary, Indiana, respectively. Andrew Young of Georgia and Barbara Jordon of Texas became the first African-Americans elected to Congress from the South in the twentieth century. Also in 1972, more than 5,000 African American activists and elected officials gathered in Gary, Indiana for the First National Black Political Assembly. An important result of the meeting was a national strategy for Black political empowerment.

In 1970 the creation of the Joint Center for Political Studies, geared towards monitoring political developments in the African American community, became the CBC’s most important political contribution. Data provided by the Joint Center for Political Studies assisted the Reverend Jesse Jackson during his 1984 presidential campaign. After its founding, the center expanded to include economic studies and currently operates as the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The CBC also laid the groundwork for TransAfrica, a 40,000-person organization dedicated to African American foreign affairs. Founded by Randall Robinson in 1977, TransAfrica came about after the CBC protested against U.S. governmental policy towards minority white rule in such African nations as Rhodesia. Meeting with 130 leaders in September of 1976, the CBC helped Robinson’s initiative gain credibility. In the 1990s, the CBC produced such leaders as Kweisi Mfume, who would later head the NAACP. In 2006, Mfume lost the Maryland Democratic primary in his bid for the U.S. Senate. In that same year, another former CBC member, Harold Ford, Jr. ran a very competitive senatorial campaign, losing the senatorial race by less than three percentage points.

In the late 1970s, President Jimmy Carter moved stridently to help African Americans. During his tenure he appointed African Americans to key cabinet positions. For example, Andrew Young was named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Patricia Roberts Harris was first the African American secretary of Housing and Urban Development and then secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Fear of black advancement led many whites to shift their allegiance to the Republican Party in the late 1960s. With the exception of Carter’s term in office from 1977 to 1981, Republicans remained in the White House for the rest of the 1970s and 1980s. The rise of conservatism gave birth to such important figures as African American conservatives Thomas Sowell, Anne Wortham, and Shelby Steele. A new era of African American liberal activity began with the institution of Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. Despite two unsuccessful campaigns for the presidency in the 1980s, Jackson helped swing the pendulum back in favor of liberalism. In 1992, a Democratic centrist, Bill Clinton, was elected president.

After a dozen years of conservatism under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Clinton projected a moderate image. Clinton espoused policies that would cut across the lines of gender, race, and economics and offered a vision of social reform, urban renewal, and domestic harmony for the United States. Once in office, Clinton appointed African Americans to key posts in his cabinet, and the African American population began wielding unprecedented influence in government.

In the 1990s, African American participation in government and politics was significant. Gary Franks became the only black Republican in Congress in 1990 when he was elected from Connecticut. He was joined four years later by another African American Republican, J. C. Watts Jr., an ordained Baptist minister, who had left the Democratic Party in 1989. Watts declined membership in the liberal CBC.

The year of 1992 saw the election of the first black woman, Carol Moseley-Braun, to the U.S. Senate. She shocked political observers by scoring a stunning upset over incumbent Senator Alan Dixon in the Democratic primary on March 17, 1992. In the 1992 November election, she was elected senator. Her term was marred by scandal, however, and she was defeated in 1998 in her bid for reelection. She served two years as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa and ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for President in 2004.

President Bill Clinton’s cabinet included a record number of African Americans. Jesse Brown became the first African American to head the Veterans Affairs Department. In the second term, Togo West was named Secretary of Veterans Affair. Lee P. Brown was selected as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; Ron Brown was chosen as secretary of commerce; Dr. Joycelyn Elders was named U.S. surgeon general; Michael Espy was awarded the position of secretary of agriculture; Hazel O’Leary was chosen as secretary of energy; Rodney Slater was appointed secretary of transportation; and Clifton Wharton Jr. became the deputy secretary of the state department. Clinton also nominated a number of African Americans to major positions in federal government agencies including Jacqueline L. Williams-Bridgers to the State Department as inspector general and Shirley A. Jackson to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as chairperson. As director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, African American Alexis Herman was one of the president’s most trusted advisors and became Secretary of Labor during Clinton’s second term. Also during Clinton’s regime, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division was headed by Deval Patrick, an African American who was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2006.

In 1996, Alan Keyes became the first African American Republican in modern times to seek the nomination of the party for the presidency. Keyes attracted little notice, however, and faded from the spotlight. After the reelection of President Clinton, the Supreme Court dealt African Americans a blow in a series of cases that invalidated “Black majority” congressional districts. These gerrymandered districts were created to ensure African Americans were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Court ruled several times—including Reno, U.S. Attorney General, v. Bossier Parish School Board in 1999—that race could not be the only factor in creating a district.

The Democratic Party has relied on African American voters to sustain Democratic candidates in tough elections. In the 1998 congressional elections, the Democrats, crippled by the personal, ethical, and legal scandals surrounding President Clinton, relied on the African American vote to prevent any losses in either chamber of Congress. Republican leaders acknowledged after the election that they needed to reach out to the African American community.

In large part, the presidential election in 2000 confirmed the importance of the African American vote to the Democratic Party and to presidential candidate and then-Vice President Al Gore. Though the election took place on November 7, 2000, the outcome of the election was not official until December 12 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that hand recounts of votes should be suspended immediately because the recount was unconstitutional. With that decision, the Supreme Court ended the controversy over chads, dimpled and pregnant ballots, and premature calls of the winner of the presidential election by the major networks. Many voters still feel that Al Gore won the popular vote and that the manual recounts of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Volusia Counties would have determined his victory. What is known is that many African Americans and some new immigrant voters experienced unprecedented scrutiny and some harassment in their efforts to vote. Whether there was a conspiracy to deny African Americans and others the right to vote remained hotly debated into the year 2002. As a result of this election debacle, reforms were discussed not only in Florida, but nationally.

George W. Bush, a Republican, became the 45th president of the United States as a result of the hotly-contested election. President Bush did not appoint as many African Americans as did President Clinton, but his appointments were in very significant and non-traditional departments. Colin L. Powell, a retired four-star general, became the first African American head of the U.S. Department of State, making him the top diplomat in the country. Rodney Paige also was the first African American to hold his post when President Bush named him secretary of the Education Department. President Bush also appointed Alphonso Jackson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Another significant appointment of a high-ranking African American by the Bush administration was his selection of Condoleeza Rice, former provost of Stanford University and a Soviet scholar, as his national security advisor. During President Bush’s second term Rice became the first African American and only the second woman to become the Secretary of State. As a result of these major appointments and the growing number of young, conservative African Americans, there is a re-examining of the African American community’s relationship with the Democratic Party. For the foreseeable future, however, African Americans will continue to be closely allied with the Democratic Party while pursuing options to maximize their political interests.

Barack Obama, an African American Democrat, won his 2004 Senate race comfortably becoming the fifth African American to serve in the U. S. Senate. Obama delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. Echoes of voting irregularities surfaced around the country in the 2004 election. There were allegations of extremely long voting lines, malfunctioning voting machines, dissemination of incorrect information about location and hours of operation at voting sites, and other forms of voter suppression especially in African American and other communities of color. Notably, Florida, Ohio, and Georgia were among the states in which there were numerous complaints during the 2004 elections.

In the 2006 midterm elections, national voter turn-out was up less than 1 percent compared to 2002. Black voter turnout increased slightly and represented about 10 percent of the vote. In some of the larger states such as California, New York, and Illinois turnout increased modestly because there were no hotly contested races. In other states where there was a significant increase in black voter turnout. Black voters were important in electing a Democratic governor in Ohio; re-electing Democratic governors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Democratic U.S. Senators in Florida and Michigan. Large turnouts by Blacks in Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were critical in electing four new U.S. Senators in Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In an analysis by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, in 2006, the black vote was somewhat ore female than male. Young African American voters, Independents, and African Americans in the Midwest gave 95 percent of their votes to Democratic congressional candidates.

Statewide, African American Democrats achieved victories in Massachusetts where Deval Patrick was elected Governor, becoming the second black since Reconstruction to hold a state’s highest office. There were other victories for African Americans in statewide elections. David Paterson succeeded in becoming New York’s first black lieutenant governor. Other African Americans who won new statewide positions in 2006 were Anthony Brown, Maryland lieutenant governor; Thurbert Baker, Georgia Attorney General; Michael Thurmond, Georgia Commissioner of Labor; Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State and Denise Nappier, Connecticut Treasurer.

During the 2006 midterm elections all Black Democratic Congressional incumbents won except the beleaguered U. S. Representative William Jefferson who won in a runoff. There were three black Democratic candidates who were newcomers to Congress and they were Hank Johnson of Georgia, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and Yvette Clark, New York. Ellison became the first black U. S. Representative from Minnesota and the first Muslim ever elected to the U. S. House. With the new Democratic majority in Congress, three Congressional Black Caucus members will chair three full standing committees in the 110th Congress. John Conyers, Illinois will chair the House Judiciary Committee; Bennie Thompson, Mississippi, will chair the House Homeland Security Committee; and Charles Rangel, New York will chair the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.


Chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick 2264 Rayburn (202) 225-2261 Michigan

1st Vice Chairwoman, Rep. Barbara Lee
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2nd Vice Chairman, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
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Secretary, Rep. Danny K. Davis
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Whip, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
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Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.
2429 Rayburn
(202) 225-36131

Rep. Corrine Brown
2336 Rayburn
(202) 225-0123

Rep. G.K. Butterfield
413 Cannon
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North Carolina

Rep. Julia M. Carson
2455 Rayburn
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Rep. Donna M. Christian-Christensen
1510 Longworth
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Virgin Islands

Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay, Jr.
434 Cannon
(202) 225-2406

Rep. Yvette Clarke
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New York

Rep. James E. Clyburn
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South Carolina

Founding Member, Rep. John Conyers, Jr.
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Rep. Elijah E. Cummings
2235 Rayburn
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Rep. Artur Davis
208 Cannon
(202) 225-2665

Rep. Keith Ellison
1130 Longworth
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Rep. Chaka Fattah
2301 Rayburn
(202) 225-4001

Rep. Al Green
425 Cannon
(202) 225-7508

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings
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Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.
2419 Rayburn
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Rep. William J. Jefferson
2113 Rayburn
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Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
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Rep. Hank Johnson
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Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones
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Rep. John Lewis
343 Cannon
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Rep. Kendrick Meek
1039 Longworth
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Rep. Gregory W. Meeks
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New York

Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald
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Rep. Gwen Moore
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Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton
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Washington, D.C.

Sen. Barack Obama
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Rep. Donald M. Payne
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New Jersey

Founding Member, Rep. Charles B. Rangel
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New York

Rep. Bobby L. Rush
2416 Rayburn
(202) 225-4372

Rep. David Scott
417 Cannon
(202) 225-2939

Rep. Robert C. Scott
1201 Longworth
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Rep. Bennie G. Thompson
2432 Rayburn
(202) 225-5876

Rep. Edolphus Towns
2232 Rayburn
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New York

Rep. Maxine Waters
2264 Longworth
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Rep. Diane E. Watson
125 Cannon
(202) 225-2201

Rep. Melvin L. Watt
2236 Rayburn
(202) 225-1510
North Carolina

Rep. Albert R. Wynn
2470 Rayburn
(202) 225-8699


(To locate biographical profiles more readily, please consult the index at the back of the book.)

DENNIS ARCHER (1942– ) Municipal Government Official, Attorney

Former Michigan State Supreme Court justice Dennis Archer became mayor of Detroit on January 3, 1994. During his campaign he promised better city services, a tougher stance on crime, and increased incentives for businesses choosing to locate in the city. Following Coleman Young’s combative reign, Archer represented a distinct change.

Born on January 1, 1942, in Detroit, Archer moved with his family to Cassopolis, Michigan, when he was an infant. After graduating from Cassopolis High School in 1959, Archer worked his way through college. Following studies at Wayne State University and the Detroit Institute of Technology, Archer received his B.S. from Western Michigan University in 1965.

While working as a teacher of emotionally disturbed children he met Trudy DunCombe, who became his wife in 1967. Archer earned a J.D. from the Detroit College of Law in 1970. He practiced law for several years as a partner with Hall, Stone, Allen, Archer & Glenn and later with Charfoos, Christensen & Archer, until he was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1985 by then-Governor James Blanchard.

Active in Democratic politics during the late 1970s and early 1980s, Archer directed campaigns for Mayor Coleman Young and Congressman George Crocket Jr. Archer’s decision to run against Coleman Young in 1993 was a daunting proposition. Young, however, decided not to run for a sixth term, but backed Sharon McPhail, a former City Council member and Archer’s rival for the position.

Archer was considered the candidate of the white business establishment and charged with being an upper-class elitist. Archer balanced these assessments by recalling the hard times of his early life and by going on record in support of the city’s disenfranchised, children, and the homeless. Though Archer did not receive the majority of the African American vote, he won the election with 57 percent of the vote.

High profile economic development projects such as hosting the 1994 G-7 International Jobs Conference, building a downtown casino and a new stadium for the Detroit Tigers were among Archer’s to heal racial breaches and bring all of Detroit together with common goals. Archer’s first term was characterized by a robust economy, a balanced budget, a low unemployment rate, and downtown revitalization. Perhaps the most important legacy of Archer’s first term in office was the restoration of civic pride and confidence in the city and its future. Following his successful first term in office, Archer handily won a second term in 1997 with over 83 percent of the vote.

After his reelection school reform became Archer’s priority. His plan required new legislation at the state level that would wrest power and control of the schools from the locally elected school board. Under the reform scheme, the mayor would have the authority to appoint a new school board and the top administrators. Other aspects of the proposal for educational reform include reduced class size; the hiring of 1200 new certified teachers; legislative benchmarks for assessing the school system’s success or failure; mandatory summer school in particular cases; a substantial array of after-school programs; technical training for teachers; and site-based decision making.

In the spring of 1999, a group called “The Black Slate” spearheaded the effort to collect enough signatures to recall Archer. Backers of the recall cited factors such as the mayor’s handling of a riverfront housing development project, problems with snow removal in January of 1999, damage done to Detroit’s People Mover from the implosion of the J. L. Hudson building, and Archer’s failure to grant one of Detroit’s casino licenses to an African American. The recall effort failed.

Archer announced on April 16, 2001, that he would not seek a third term as mayor of Detroit. He did serve as president of the National League of Cities during his last year as Mayor of Detroit. Following his tenure, Archer returned to the law firm of Dickinson Wright PLLC as chairman. In 2002, Archer became the first African American President-Elect of the American and served as President of that body from 2003-2004.

MARION BARRY (1936– ) Municipal Government Official

Marion Shepilov Barry was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, on March 6, 1936, and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. He earned a B.S. and M.S. in chemistry by 1960, and while a graduate student at Fisk University became active in NAACP politics and the civil rights movement. He eventually co-founded the famous Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, a civil rights protest group that made significant gains in erasing the last institutional vestiges of racism in the South. Barry was SNCC’s first national chairperson.

After he moved to Washington, D.C., in the mid-1960s, Barry became active in local politics through efforts to move the capital city toward self-government free from congressional interference. Among other achievements, he was instrumental in obtaining federal funding for a citywide youth employment and community service program and was elected to the local school board in 1970. When the “Free D.C.” political movement succeeded in loosening congressional rule over the city, Barry ran for a seat on its first council, which he held for three years.

In 1977, Barry was wounded in an altercation involving the seizure of Washington’s District Building by radical Muslims. Elected mayor in 1978, over the next few years his administration was marked by both controversy and achievement. His former wife was charged with embezzling federal funds, but Barry himself was never under any suspicion. As mayor, he initiated community-improvement programs to better employment opportunities and housing conditions for Washington’s more disadvantaged neighborhoods. During Barry’s administration, access increased for contracting opportunities with the city for women- and minority-owned businesses. One of the hallmarks of Barry’s tenure as mayor was the launching of large numbers of youth development and summer employment programs. He was reelected in 1982 and again in 1986. Near the end of his third term, Barry was indicted by a federal grand jury for drug possession. He was convicted of a misdemeanor for usage after being filmed snorting crack cocaine and served the maximum six months.

Despite the setback, Barry’s support among his Washington, D.C., constituency did not diminish. In 1992, he again won a city council seat, and he ran successfully for mayor in 1994. His fourth term was sullied when Congress established a financial control board in 1995 to oversee the district’s financial recovery. The city faced a growing debt in excess of $722 million. In 1997, Congress and the president extended the control board’s power to nearly every facet of the D.C. government, thus stripping

Barry of most of his executive power. He did not seek reelection.

In 2004, Barry ran in the Democratic primary for the Ward 8 Council seat he held prior to becoming Mayor. He won the general election with more than 95 percent of the vote. Barry pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of failing to pay local and federal taxes and was sentenced to three years probation. Throughout his legal problems and struggle with addition, Barry to continued to serve on the DC Council and to work as an investment banking consultant.

SIDNEY JOHN BARTHELEMY (1942– ) Sociologist, Municipal Government Official, State Legislator

Sidney Barthelemy was born in New Orleans on March 17, 1942. He attended Epiphany Apostolic Junior College in Newburgh, NY from 1960 to 1963 with the intent of entering the priesthood. In 1967, Barthelemy received a B.A. from the St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, D.C. Two years later he earned a M.S.W. from Tulane University. After graduation, Barthelemy worked in administrative and professional positions in various organizations including Total Community Action, the Parent-Child Development Center, Family Health Inc., and the Urban League of New Orleans. From 1972 to 1974, Barthelemy was the director of the Welfare Department of the City of New Orleans. In 1974, he was elected to the Louisiana State Senate. Barthelemy left the state legislature in 1978 after winning a seat on the New Orleans City Council, where he stayed until his 1986 election as mayor.

He was mayor for eight years during the economic slump or oil bust period of high unemployment. The City faced a $30 million deficit which he gradually eliminated. During his tenure, riverboat gambling and land-based casinos were legalized. He recognized tourism as a major economic engine for his city and was successful in New Orleans’ selection as the host city for the 1988 Republican, the NCAA Final Four in 1993, and the opening of the Aquarium of the Americas and the historic visit of Pope John in 1987.

Barthelemy taught at Xavier University as an associate professor of sociology from 1974 to 1986. He also taught at Tulane University and the University of New Orleans. He has been the vice-chairman for voter registration for the Democratic National Party, second vice president for the National League of Cities, and president of the Louisiana Conference of Mayors. Barthelemy belongs to the NAACP, National Association of Black Mayors, Democratic National Committee, National Institute of Education, National League of Cities, and the New Orleans Association of Black Social Workers. He has won numerous awards including Outstanding Alumnus of Tulane University, and the 1987 Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers’ Social Worker of the Year Award. He has also won the American Freedom Award presented by the Third Baptist Church of Chicago (1987), the 1989 American Spirit Award given by the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service, and the NAACP’s New Orleans Chapter Daniel E. Byrd Award (1990).

In 1993, Barthelemy decided not to seek another term as mayor of New Orleans. He went back to teaching at Tulane and the University of New Orleans. Currently, he works in governmental affairs for a New Orleans-based real estate development company. He has also been involved with former New Orleans mayors and parish presidents in planning for post-Katrina regional flood protection.

SHARON SAYLES BELTON (1951– ) Municipal Government Official

Belton was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and attended Macalester College. She did not graduate as she dropped out when she became pregnant. Belton worked in the Twin Cities areas as a volunteer, eventually establishing a series of rape shelters in the area.

Her community involvement led her to pursue a city council seat in Minneapolis. She was elected to the city council in 1984, and represented the 8th ward. In 1993, Belton made the decision to run for mayor. She was endorsed by incumbent mayor Don Fraser and won nearly 60 percent of the vote, despite the fact that less than a quarter of the voters were African American.

Sayles Belton served as mayor of Minneapolis from 1994-2001. As mayor, Belton continued to seek to build coalitions to solve the city’s problems. This style was her hallmark as a member of city council. She reduced crime rates by redirecting resources to public safety and by deploying more police officers to high crime areas. She appointed many women and minorities to positions of power within the city government, changing the political culture in Minneapolis. She was reelected to a second term in 1997, but lost a bid for a third in 2000.

In May 2002, Belton joined the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs as a senior fellow in the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice working on anti-racism initiatives; improving information sharing between community organizations and academic research institutions; and leadership development among people of color and new immigrants.

MARY FRANCES BERRY (1938– ) Educator, Federal Government Official, Civil Rights Activist, Attorney

Mary Frances Berry was born in 1938. She received her B.A. degree from Howard University in 1961 and her M.A. in 1962. In 1966, she received a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and her J.D. in 1970. Berry worked for several years as a professor of history and law at several universities throughout the United States. She was appointed assistant secretary of education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Prior to her service at HEW, Berry was provost at the University of Maryland College Park and chancellor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

In 1980 Berry was appointed by President Carter and confirmed by the Senate as a commissioner and vice-chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She was fired from the commission by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 for criticizing his civil rights policies. She sued him and won reinstatement in federal court. On November 19, 1993, President Bill Clinton named her chair of the Civil Rights Commission. He reappointed her to the Commission for another six-year term in 1999. In her role as chair, Berry led the investigation that examined minority voter disenfranchisement in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. During her tenure as chairman, the Commission also issued significant reports on police practices in New York, environmental justice, percentage plans and affirmative action, and church burnings. Barry left office in 2004 before her term expired and was succeeded by Gerald A. Reynolds, an African American Republican. Since 1987, Berry has been the Geraldine R. Segal professor of American Social Thought at the University of Pennsylvania where she teaches law and history.

Berry was once again in the public eye when she was unanimously selected to become chair of the Pacifica Radio Board. The board initiated new policies and changes in the station’s programming and format which led to massive street protests, litigation, and widespread opposition. Berry left the board at the end of her term.

Berry has published numerous articles and essays. She is the author of eight books, including Military Necessity and Civil Rights Policy: Black Citizenship and the Constitution 1861-1868 (1977); Long Memory: The Black Experience in America, with John Blassingame (1982); Why ERA Failed: Politics, Women’s Rights, and the Amending Process of the Constitution (1986); The Politics of Parenthood: Child care, Women’s Rights, and the Myth of the Good Mother (1993); Black Resistence, White Law: A History of Constitutional Racism in America (1994, orig. 1971); The Pig Farmer’s Daughter and Other Tales of American Justice: Episodes of Racism and Sexism in the Courts from 1865 to the Present (1999); My Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations (2005).

UNITA BLACKWELL (1933– ) Municipal Government Official, Civil Rights Activist

Unita Blackwell was born on March 18, 1933, in the small Delta town of Lula, Mississippi. The daughter of sharecroppers, Blackwell’s family constantly migrated between Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee in search of work This transitory lifestyle lasted well into her early adulthood. Blackwell worked throughout the South at such jobs as chopping cotton and peeling tomatoes, until she finally settled in Mayersville, Mississippi, in 1962.

Initially, Blackwell’s eighth-grade education kept her in the fields, but she also became involved with the Student

Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s (SNCC) activities in Mississippi. Blackwell began canvassing the state on behalf of the organization, organizing and registering African American voters. In 1964, Blackwell joined fellow-activist Fannie Lou Hamer in the formation of the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party. The party challenged the white-controlled Democratic political machine in the state, pushing for laws establishing black schools which would teach mathematics and science and preventing black children’s employment as sharecroppers. In 1967, Blackwell co-founded Mississippi Action Community Education, an organization which promoted the incorporation of rural districts into towns, enabling them to get government aid in the installation of streetlights and electricity. Her work, as a community development specialist, with the National Council of Negro Women in the early 1970s led to the building of low-income housing units throughout the South and in Puerto Rico.

When Blackwell was elected mayor of Mayersville in 1976, she became the first African American woman mayor in Mississippi. During her tenure, the city has acquired streetlights, paved roads, a fire truck, and a sewer system. She has also instituted an effective food assistance program, and sponsored the construction of housing for the elderly and disabled. In 1982, Blackwell earned a master’s degree in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She was elected president of the National Conference of Black Mayors in 1990, a position she held until 1992.

Blackwell, was also a fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1991. In 1992, Blackwell received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award.” She is also the recipient of a 1992 Southern Christian Leadership Award, and the American Planning Association’s Leadership Award for elected officials in 1994.

JULIAN BOND (1940– ) State Representative, Lecturer, Civil Rights Activist, Organization Executive, State Senator, Educator, Media Personality, Media Executive

Throughout his career Julian Bond has been labeled everything from a national hero to a national traitor. He has faced violent segregationists and his own political and personal failures and scandals. He has, however, remained an influential voice in politics, education, and the media.

Horace Julian Bond was born on January 14, 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee. His father, Dr. Horace Mann Bond, an eminent scholar, was the first African American president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. The family lived in Lincoln until Dr. Bond became Dean of the School of Education at Atlanta University. After graduating from the George School, a Quaker school, in 1957, Bond entered Morehouse College. Bond was not an exceptional student, but he won a varsity letter in swimming and was one of the founders of The Pegasus, aliterarymagazine.

While at Morehouse, however, Bond developed an interest in civil rights activism. He and several other students formed the Atlanta Committee on Appeal for Human Rights (COAHR). The Atlanta University-based COAHR student civil rights organization held nonvio-lent direct action anti-segregation protests for three years that won integration of Atlanta’s movie theaters, lunch counters, and parks. These activities attracted the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders who invited students, among them Bond, to Shaw University in North Carolina to help devise new civil rights strategies. At this conference where the adult participants were eventually requested to “speak only when asked to do so,” the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee was created as an autonomous organization. SNCC eventually absorbed COHAR and Bond accepted a position as the SNCC director of communications, editing the SNCC newsletter, The Student Voice, and working voter registration drives in the rural South.

In 1965, Bond campaigned for a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. He won the one year term in the special election following court-ordered reapportionment of the state legislature. Bond prepared to take his seat in the Georgia legislature but became embroiled in a controversy when he announced his opposition to U.S. involvement in Vietnam. This stance outraged many conservative members of the Georgia House of Representatives and on January 10, 1966, they voted to prevent Bond’s admission to the legislature. Bond sought legal recourse to overturn this vote and the case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. On December 5, 1966, the Court ruled that the Georgia vote was a violation of Bond’s First Amendment right of free speech and ordered that he be admitted to the legislature. The members of the Georgia House of Representatives reluctantly allowed Bond to take his seat, but treated him as an outcast.

In 1968, Bond and several other members of the Georgia Loyal National Delegation to the Democratic Convention protested Governor Lester Maddox’s decision to send only six African American delegates out of 107 to the Democratic National Convention. Bond and his supporters arrived at the convention and set up a rival delegation. After several bitter arguments with Georgia’s official delegation, Bond’s delegation captured nearly half of Georgia’s delegate votes. He became the Democratic Party’s first African American candidate for the U.S. vice presidency, but withdrew his name because he did not meet the minimum age requirement.

From 1978 to 1989, Bond was president of the Atlanta branch of the NAACP. He was elected to the Georgia Senate in 1975 and remained a member until 1987. In 1976, he declined an invitation to become a part of President Jimmy Carter’s administration. Bond ran for a seat in the U.S. Congress in 1986 but lost the election to John Lewis. In 1989, he divorced his wife after 28 years of marriage. During the bitter divorce, allegations of Bond’s drug use surfaced. Shortly thereafter, he became embroiled in a paternity suit. He initially denied the allegations, but admitted in May of 1990 to fathering the child and was ordered to pay child support.

Bond has served as a visiting professor at Drexel and Harvard Universities. He is a lecturer and writer and is often called upon to comment on political and social issues. Bond has hosted a popular television program America’s Black Forum, the oldest African American-owned show in television syndication; and narrated the highly acclaimed public television series Eyes on the Prize, a film on the life of artist Henry O. Tanner, the 1992 documentary The American Experience: Duke Ellington—Reminiscing in Tempo, and the Academy Award winning documentary, A Time For Justice.He has written a nationally syndicated newspaper column.

In 1994 he became involved in a power struggle with NAACP Board Chairman William Gibson, which cost Bond his position on the board. In 1998, Bond was elected chair of the NAACP board of directors and chair of the board of the NAACP’s magazine, The Crisis. He is currently a distinguished scholar in residence at American University and a Professor of history at the University of Virginia where he is also co-director of Explorations in Black Leadership.

In addition to his role as an active voice in American politics, Bond has written and edited many books, including Mose T’s Slapout Family Album (1996); Black Candidates—Southern Campaign Experiences (1969); and Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Celebration of the Negro National Anthem (2000). A collection of Bond’s essays has been published under the title A Time to Speak, A Time to Act (1972)

CORY BOOKER (1969– ) Attorney, Municipal Government Official

Cory Anthony Booker represents a new breed of African American politicians who reached adulthood in the post-civil rights era. They are often populists or social justice activists with Ivy League educations and corporate experience. Some veteran politicians are critical of newcomers like Booker and their crossover appeal.

Born on April 27, 1969 in Washington, DC to civil rights activists, Booker’s parents were among the first African-American managers at IBM. He grew up in Harrington Park, New Jersey, a predominantly white affluent community. He earned his B.A. in political science in 1991 from Stanford University. At Stanford he was a scholar, athlete, and leader. He was elected to Stanford’s Council of Presidents, played varsity football, and ran a student-run crisis hotline. Following the completion of his Master’s in sociology at Stanford in 1992, Booker won a Rhodes scholarship. He studied at Oxford University for two years and was awarded a degree in modern history with honors in 1994.

Upon returning to the United States, Booker entered Yale Law School and earned his J.D. in 1997. While in law school, he started and operated free legal clinics for poor people in New Haven; mentored young boys through the Big Brother program; and was active in the Black Law Students Association.

After graduation, Booker moved back to New Jersey working as a staff attorney for the Urban Justice Center in New York and program coordinator of the Newark Youth Project. Booker attracted public attention when he moved into the Brick Towers, an infamous public housing project and began organizing the tenants.

Booker’s first political race was in 1998 when he successfully unseated a four-term incumbent to get elected to the Newark City Council. As a councilmember, he was principled and outside the conventional political mode. He went on a hunger strike, protested open-air drug dealing, and lived in a motor home for five months on various street corners to bring attention and police action to known drug trafficking locations.

In spite of his energy and penchant for bringing media attention to important social issues such as housing, drug abuse, and education in Newark, many of his Council bills were overwhelmingly defeated by a seven vote bloc of his Council colleagues.

When Booker decided to run for Mayor of Newark in 2002, his opponent, Sharpe James, was a five term veteran of the mayor’s office and a local political powerhouse. The hotly contested and brutal mayoral race received national media attention and was the subject of the documentary, Street Fight, which received an Academy Award nomination. James won the race with percent of the vote.

In 2003, Booker founded Newark Now, a nonprofit organization; became a partner in a New Jersey law firm; and a fellow in public policy and planning at Rutgers University. Booker announced his second candidacy for mayor of Newark in 2006. Ron Rice, a veteran State Senator and Council member, who was serving as Deputy Mayor, also announced his intention to run for mayor provided Mayor James did not seek reelection.

James did not seek reelection as Mayor, but continued to serve in the New Jersey Senate.

Booker had at least a $6 million campaign fund which enabled him to run a very professional and effective campaign. With 72 percent of the vote, Booker won a resounding victory over Rice. The entire slate of victorious Council candidates had allied themselves with Booker.

On July 1, 2006, Booker was sworn in as Mayor. For almost four decades only two other people had held that position, Ken Gibson and Sharpe James. At 37 years of age, Booker was perhaps the youngest mayor in Newark’s recent history. Reducing crime, especially drug trafficking; improving housing and other quality of life indicators for all Newark residents; working for high achieving schools while improving educational options for students; and being accessible to city residents were among the areas of focus for Mayor Booker’s administration.

THOMAS BRADLEY (1917–1998) Civil Rights Activist, Municipal Government Official, Organization Executive, City Council Member, Attorney

Bradley was born December 29, 1917, in Calvert, Texas, the son of a sharecropper. In 1924 he moved with his family to Los Angeles where he graduated from Polytechnic High School in 1937 and attended the University of California, Los Angeles, on an athletic scholarship. He excelled at track before quitting college in 1940 and joining the Los Angeles Police Department. While a member of the police force, Bradley worked as a detective, community relations officer, and in the depart-ment’s juvenile division. In the early 1950s, Bradley began studying law at two Los Angeles universities, Loyola University and later at Southwestern University. He was awarded an LL.B. from Southwestern University in 1956. Bradley stayed with the LAPD until 1961, when he entered private law practice.

In 1963, Bradley became the first African American elected to the Los Angeles City Council. He was reelected in 1967 and 1971. In the 1973 election Bradley became mayor of Los Angeles, winning 56 percent of the vote. During his time as mayor, Bradley compiled a record and was both lauded and criticized. Bradley’s defenders credited him with opening city government to minorities and women, expanding social services to the urban poor, and spurring growth. During Bradley’s tenure as mayor, Los Angeles overtook San Francisco as the West Coast’s financial center and gained international prominence. Though Bradley is credited with turning Los Angeles into a modern metropolis, his detractors accused him of not keeping up with the city’s problems.

One of the toughest situations Bradley faced was the occurrence of the 1992 riots that followed the announcement of “not guilty” verdicts for Los Angeles Police Department officers who were charged with beating African American motorist Rodney King. Bradley was vilified for what some considered to be his lack of response to the incident. Many demanded the firing of Police Chief Daryl Gates. Under the limits of the law, however, Bradley could do no more than ask Gates to resign. Though Gates eventually did leave his post, many considered the situation a serious challenge to Bradley’s authority.

Bradley did attempt to heal the community in other ways. Even before the rioting had ended, he set up the nonprofit organization, Rebuild LA. That organization was criticized for creating unreal expectations, but Bradley’s Neighbor to Neighbor group was viewed in a positive light. Comprised of nearly 800 volunteers, the outreach group regularly canvassed neighborhoods to give residents an outlet for discussing problems and to help citizens organize themselves in order to solve their own difficulties. In a second trial, two of four LAPD officers charged with violating King’s civil rights were found guilty.

One of Bradley’s final acts as a city official was to sign a bill that banned smoking in all restaurants. He was honored for his years of service by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in June of 1993. He officially left the mayoral post on July 1, 1993, effectively ending a 30-year public career. After his last term, Bradley returned to the private practice of law. He was then ensnared in a political finance scandal that also caught other California lawmakers, including Governor Pete Wilson and Senator Dianne Feinstein. Laundered campaign funds were traced to Evergreen America Corp., the world’s largest container shipping company. Los Angeles’s Ethics Commission ordered Bradley and others to repay a total of $15,000, but Bradley refused, claiming he did not know the money had been improperly donated.

Bradley served as president of the National League of Cities and the Southern California Association of Governments. He belonged to the Urban League of Los Angeles and was a founding member of the NAACP’s Black Achievers Committee. On the national level he served on President Gerald Ford’s National Committee on Productivity & Work Quality and on the National Energy Advisory Council. Bradley won numerous awards and honors including the 1974 University of California’s Alumnus of the Year, the 1974 Thurgood Marshall Award, the 1978 Award of Merit given by the National Council of Negro Women, and the NAACP’s 1985 Spingarn Medal.

EDWARD W. BROOKE (1919– ) Attorney, Federal Legislator

Edward W. Brooke was born on October 26, 1919, in Washington, D.C. He moved to Massachusetts and, in a state that was overwhelmingly Democratic and in which African Americans constituted only 3 percent of the population, became a popular Republican figure. He first achieved statewide office in 1962 when he defeated Elliot Richardson to become attorney general. His record in that post led to his 1966 election to the Senate over former Massachusetts governor Endicott Peabody.

Born into a middle-class environment, Brooke attended public schools and went on to graduate from Howard. Inducted into an all-African American infantry unit during World War II, Brooke rose to the rank of captain and was ultimately given a Bronze Star for his work in intelligence. Returning to Massachusetts after the war, Brooke attended the Boston University Law School, compiling a top academic record and editing the Law Review. After law school, he established himself as an attorney and also served as chairman of the Boston Finance Commission.

Brooke was later nominated for the attorney general’s office, encountering stiff opposition within his own party. He eventually won both the Republican primary and the general election against his Democratic opponent. In the Senate, Brooke espoused the notion that the Great Society could not become a reality until it was preceded by the “Responsible Society.” He called this a society in which “it’s more profitable to work than not to work. You don’t help a man by constantly giving him more handouts.”

Brooke served two terms as U. S. Senator (1967 to 1979). When elected in November 1966, Brooke became the first popularly elected African American U. S. Senator.

Initially he strongly supported U.S. participation in the Vietnam War, though most African American leaders were increasingly opposing it. However, in 1971, Brooke supported the McGovern-Hatfield Amendment that called for withdrawal of the United States from Vietnam. Matters of race rather than foreign affairs were to become Brooke’s area of expertise. Brooke was a cautious legislator. However, as pressure mounted from the established civil rights groups and African American militants he decided to attack President Nixon’s policies. Brooke was roused into a more active role by the administration’s vacillating school desegregation guidelines, its firing of HEW official Leon Panetta, and the nominations to the Supreme Court of judicial conservatives Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell.

In 1972, Brooke was reelected to the Senate overwhelmingly, even though Massachusetts was the only state not carried by his party in the presidential election. While Brooke seconded the nomination of President Richard M. Nixon at the 1972 Republican Convention, he became increasingly critical of the Nixon administration. He also began appearing publicly at meetings of the Congressional Black Caucus, a group he had tended to avoid in the past. Brooke was considered a member of the moderate wing of the Republican Party. In 1978, Brooke’s bid for a third term in the Senate was denied by Democrat Paul Tsongas. Brooke, the recipient of more than 30 honorary degrees and various awards, including the NAACP Spingarn Medal and the National Conference of Christians and Jews’ Charles Evans Hughes Award, returned to private law practice following his Senate career.

In 1996, Brooke became the first chairman of Alpha Phi Alpha’s World Policy Council, a think tank established to broaden the fraternity’s involvement in international affairs. He is currently, the Council’s chairman emeritus.

In 2002, Brooke was diagnosed with breast cancer and since that time has been involved in raising national awareness of the disease among men.

In 2004, Brooke, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

LEE P. BROWN (1937– ) Municipal Government Official

Lee Brown was born in Wewoka, Oklahoma on October 4, 1937. Later he moved to California where he began his professional career in law enforcement in 1960 as a San Jose police officer. He also earned his bachelor’s degree in criminology that same year from Fresno State University. In 1964 Brown received his master’s degree in sociology from San Jose State University. He pursued his education at the University of California at Berkeley where he earned a second master’s degree in 1968 and his Ph.D. in criminology in 1970.

Brown embarked upon a university teaching career with an appointment as assistant professor at San Jose State in 1968. After earning his second master’s, he established the Department of Administration of Justice at Portland State University in Oregon, becoming chairman at the rank of professor. In 1972 Brown joined the faculty at Howard University as associate director of the Institute of Urban Affairs and Research, professor of Public Administration, and director of Criminal Justice programs at Howard University.

In 1974, Brown returned to law enforcement as Sheriff of Multonomah County, Oregon. A position he held until 1976 when he became director of the Department of Justice Services. After an extensive national search, Brown was selected as public safety commissioner of Atlanta a position he held from 1978 to 1982. In that position he was responsible for Atlanta’s police, fire, corrections, and civil defense departments. During his tenure, the police department solved the Atlanta Child Murders cases. Brown went back to the academy as a professor at Texas Southern University and director of the university’s Black Male Initiative Program.

From 1982 to 1990, Brown served as Chief of Police of Houston, Texas. His appointment by Mayor Kathy Whitmire marked the first time an African American served as Houston’s Police Chief. Brown was an innovative and transformative leader. He reformed the troubled Houston Police Department and pioneered the concept of community policing. The Houston Police Department became a model agency and Brown became known as the “Father of Community Policing.”

Following is success in Houston, he was selected to serve as Police Commissioner of New York City. Brown implemented the community policing citywide and started a dramatic crime reduction in New York City.

In 1993, President Clinton nominated Brown for the post of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate and sworn-in as a member of the President’s cabinet on June 21, 1993. As Drug Czar, Brown shifted the nation’s drug control strategy to place more emphasis on reducing the demand for drugs.

Elected Mayor of Houston, Texas, America’s fourth largest city, in 1997, Brown was very effective leader. Arguably, Brown presided over the most prosperous period in the history of that city. During Brown’s administration Houston revitalized the downtown area; started its first light rail system; expanded public transportation with increased bus service, park and ride, and HOV lanes; built and opened new state-ofthe-art sports venues (football, baseball, and basketball); built and renovated new libraries, police, and fire stations; constructed the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts; constructed the City’s first convention center hotel and doubled the size of the convention center; and increased the number of foreign consulates.

In 2001 Brown was narrowly reelected mayor in a hotly contested race against city councilmember Orlando Sanchez. Brown won by a margin of three percentage points with heavy voter turnout in predominantly Black precincts.

Brown is a co-founder of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and currently serves as chairman and CEO of Brown Group International, a multinational consulting firm that specializes in complex problems in public safety, homeland security, crisis management, government relations, and international trade, and other concerns.

RON BROWN (1941–1996) Attorney, Federal Government Official, Organization Executive

Ronald H. Brown was born in Washington, D.C., on August 1, 1941, and raised in Harlem, NY. He attended White Plains High School and Rhodes and Walden Preparatory Schools. He graduated from Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, with a B.A. in political science in 1962. Upon graduating, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he achieved the rank of captain while serving in West Germany and Korea. In 1970, Brown graduated from New York City’s St. John’s University Law School.

While attending law school, Brown began working in 1988 for the National Urban League’s job training center in the Bronx, New York. He continued with them until 1979, working as general counsel, Washington spokesperson, deputy executive director, vice president of Washington operations, and lobbyist. In 1980 he resigned to become chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Largely because of his effectiveness as chief counsel of the Judiciary Committee, he became the general counsel and staff coordinator for Senator Edward Kennedy. Brown

also became chief counsel for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and subsequently the deputy chairman of the DNC. After his term as deputy chairman expired, Brown joined the law firm of Patton, Boggs & Blow.

In 1989 Brown was appointed chairman of the DNC, making him the first African American to head a major American political party. As head of the DNC, Brown proved to be a successful fund-raiser and an effective team builder. During Brown’s tenure, Democrats elected an African American governor in Virginia and an African American mayor in New York City. Brown was also considered one of the architects of President Bill Clinton’s 1992 election victory. In 1993, President Clinton appointed Brown commerce secretary. He was subsequently confirmed by the U.S. Senate, thus becoming the first African American secretary of commerce.

As commerce secretary, Brown was a leader in developing trade and economic policies which were sometimes controversial. He opened doors that allowed women and minorities to be more involved and aware of business opportunities through the Commerce Department. Brown’s service as a cabinet member was marred somewhat by charges of financial impropriety and influence-peddling. An independent counsel was appointed to investigate the allegations. Brown’s last official act was leading a group of American businessmen and women to war-torn Croatia so that they might assist in rebuilding the country. Brown died in a plane crash on April 3, 1996, near the Croatian coast.

BLANCHE K. BRUCE (1841–1898) Federal Government Official, Civil Rights Activist, Federal Legislator

Blanche Kelso Bruce was born a slave in Farmville, Prince Edward County, Virginia. He received his early formal education in Missouri, where his parents had moved while he was young, and may have studied at Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1868, Bruce settled in Floreyville, Mississippi, where he was a successful educator. He later worked as a planter and eventually built up a considerable fortune in property.

In 1870, Bruce entered politics and was elected sergeant-at-arms of the Mississippi Senate. A year later he was named assessor of taxes in Bolivar County. In 1872 he served as sheriff of the county and as a member of the Board of Levee Commissioners of Mississippi. Bruce was nominated for the U.S. Senate from Mississippi in February of 1874. He was elected, becoming the first African American person to serve a full term in the Senate. Bruce became an outspoken defender of the rights of minority groups, including the Chinese and Native Americans. In 1879, he became the first African American to preside over the Senate during a debate. He chaired the investigation into the failure of the Freedmen’s Savings and Trust and worked for the improvement of navigation on the Mississippi in the hope of increasing interstate and foreign commerce. Bruce also supported legislation aimed at eliminating reprisals against those who had opposed African American emancipation.

After Bruce completed his term in the Senate in 1881, he failed to win a second term due to the loss of power and influence of the Radical Republicans in the South. He rejected an offer for a diplomatic post to Brazil, because slavery was still practiced there. In 1881, he was named register of the U.S. Treasury Department by President James A. Garfield. Bruce held this position until 1885 when the Democrats regained power. He wrote articles and lectured until 1889, when President Benjamin Harrison appointed him recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia. Bruce served as recorder of deeds until 1893, when he became a trustee for the District of Columbia public schools. In 1897, President William McKinley reappointed him to his former post as register of the treasury. Bruce died on March 17, 1898, in Washington, D.C.

RALPH J. BUNCHE (1904–1971) Federal Government Official, Diplomat, Educator

The first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Ralph Bunche was an internationally acclaimed statesman whose record of achievement places him among the most significant American diplomats of the twentieth century. Bunche received the Peace Prize in 1950 for his role in effecting a cease fire in the Arab-Israeli dispute.

Born in Detroit on August 7, 1904, Bunche graduated summa cum laude in 1927 with Phi Beta Kappa honors from UCLA. A year later he received his M.A. in government from Harvard. Soon thereafter he was named head of the Department of Political Science at Howard University until 1932 when he resumed his work toward his doctorate from Harvard. He later studied at Northwestern University, the London School of Economics, and Capetown University. Before World War II broke out in 1939, Bunche did field work with the Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal, author of the widely acclaimed An American Dilemma. During the war, he served initially as senior social analyst for the Office of the Coordinator of Information in African and Far Eastern Affairs, and was then reassigned to the African section of the Office of Strategic Services. In 1942, he helped draw up the territories and trusteeship sections ultimately earmarked for inclusion in the United Nations charter.

The single event that brought the name of Ralph Bunche into the international spotlight occurred soon after his appointment in 1948 as chief assistant to Count Folke Bernadotte, U.N. mediator in the Palestine crisis. With the latter’s assassination, Bunche continued cease-fire talks between Egypt and Israel. After six weeks of intensive negotiations, Bunche worked out the “Four Armistice Agreements,” which brokered an immediate cessation of the hostilities between the two combatants. Once the actual cease-fire was signed, Bunche received numerous congratulatory letters and telegrams from many heads of state and was given a hero’s welcome upon his return to the United States.

Bunche served as undersecretary of Special Political Affairs from 1957 to 1967. By 1968, Bunche had attained the rank of undersecretary general, the highest position ever held by an American at the United Nations. Bunche retired in October of 1971 and died on December 9, 1971. The library of the Department of State was dedicated and renamed in his honor in May of 1997 in recognition of his political and humanitarian contributions.

YVONNE BRAITHWAITE BURKE (1932– ) Attorney, State Legislator

Attorney and former California State Assemblywoman Yvonne Braithwaite Burke became the first African American woman from California ever to be elected to the House of Representatives in November of 1972. More than 20 years later, she became the first woman and African American to chair the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Prior to her governmental career, Burke was a practicing attorney, during which time she served as a deputy corporation commissioner, a hearing officer for the Los Angeles Police Commissioner, and an attorney for the McCone Commission which investigated the Watts riots.

Born on October 5, 1932, in Los Angeles, Congresswoman Burke served in the State Assembly for six years prior to her election to Congress. During her final two years, she was chairperson of the Committee on Urban Development and Housing and a member of the Health, Finance and Insurance committees. As a state legislator, Burke was responsible for the enactment of bills that provided for needy children, relocation of tenants, owners of homes taken by governmental action, and which required major medical insurance programs to grant immediate coverage to newborn infants of the insured.

Burke’s district, created in 1971 by the California legislature, was about 50 percent African American. In 1972, the district gave 64 percent of its vote to Burke. During Burke’s first term in the House, she proved to be an ardent spokesperson for the downtrodden. She became a member of the Committee on Appropriations in December of 1974, and used her position on this committee to advocate an increase in funding for senior citizen services and community nutrition and food programs. Although her proposal for increased spending was defeated by the House of Representatives, Burke’s efforts earned the respect of the African American community. In January of 1977, Burke worked diligently for the passage of the Displaced Homemakers Act, which proposed the creation of counseling programs and job training centers for women entering the work force for the first time.

In 1978, Burke resigned to run for attorney general in California. She lost the race but was appointed to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. She resigned from the board in December 1980, and returned to her private law practice. Burke remained a prominent figure in California politics, taking on a number of civic responsibilities, including serving as a member of the University of California Board of Regents. In 1992, Burke was elected as chairperson of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. She continues to serve on the LA County Board of Supervisors.

CHUCK BURRIS (1951– ) Municipal Government Official

Burris was born in New Orleans in 1951, and was raised in Atlanta. He attended Morehouse College, and in 1971 he received his B.A. In 1975, he received his LL.B. from John Marshall Law School. Burris worked on several of the campaigns of Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young. He worked for the city of Atlanta as a member of the Crime Analyst Team and as budget officer. He was also affiliated with the city’s housing department.

While working for the state of Georgia, Burris first discovered the town of Stone Mountain. The city was the birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan and had a large monument to the Confederacy carved on Stone Mountain. Burris moved to the town and, in 1991, won election to the city council. Burris was determined to change the town’s image from intolerance to inclusiveness.

In 1997, Burris was elected as the mayor of Stone Mountain. The symbolic victory attracted national attention.

BILL CAMPBELL (1954– ) Municipal Government Official

Bill Campbell was born in 1954 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Campbell became mayor of Atlanta in 1994 at the age of 40, the third African American to hold that position. His election signaled a new generation of leadership for the people of Atlanta.

In 1974, Campbell graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University, completing a triple major (history, political science, and sociology) in just three years. He received his J.D. from Duke University in 1977 and went to work for an Atlanta law firm. Campbell worked from 1980 to 1981 for the U.S. Justice Department in Atlanta.

Campbell began his political career in 1981 when he served on the Atlanta City Council. He served three consecutive terms through 1993, co-sponsoring more than 300 pieces of legislation. By 1993, he had become a partner in an Atlanta law firm, along with serving as floor leader of the city council under Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson. When Jackson’s health began to wane, Campbell was mentioned as a mayoral candidate. The importance of the mayoral election was heightened by the city’s preparations for the 1996 Olympics.

The 1993 election for mayor included other city council members, former mayoral candidates, and 12 non-partisan candidates. Campbell won 49 percent of the vote, shy of the 50 percent needed to win the office outright. He won the runoff election with 73 percent of the vote.

Campbell appointed Beverly J. Harvard the first female police chief of a major American city. He installed mini-police precincts in Atlanta’s housing projects, planned alliances between the city and historically African American colleges, and encouraged young people to become active in community services. In 1996, Campbell hosted many dignitaries, including President Bill Clinton, in celebration of the tenth official holiday celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Campbell proposed a $150 million plan to repair Atlanta’s infrastructure before the Olympics. Following the Olympics, Camp-bell’s major efforts focused on downtown redevelopment, privatization of the Water Department, and a transformation of the housing authority in Atlanta from one of the worst in the nation.

Campbell won reelection as Atlanta’s mayor in 1997. During his second term, he was attacked for the city’s affirmative action program which he vigorously defended, but won wide praise for his handling of a widely publicized shooting rampage that occurred in the city in 1999. In 2000, it was revealed that Campbell was under federal investigation in a corruption probe. Campbell could not seek a third-term in the office due to term limits. Following the inauguration of mayor-elect Shirley Franklin, Campbell moved to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida where he practiced law.

In August 2004, Campbell was indicted by a federal grand jury on racketeering, bribery and wire fraud charges after a five-year federal investigation of corruption in his administration during his tenure as Mayor.

The investigation led to the conviction of more than a dozen City contractors and several senior city officials including three of Campbell’s top aides on corruption-related charges. Mayor Campbell was found guilty of three counts of tax fraud relating to false tax returns for the three years from 1997 to 1000 and was sentenced to two years, six months in federal prison. He reported to prison in Miami, FL in August 2006.

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM (1924–2005) Educator, Federal Legislator, Organization Executive, Civil Rights Activist

Shirley Chisholm was born November 30, 1924, in New York City but spent much of her early life in Barbados with her extended family. She graduated cum laude from Brooklyn College in 1946 with a B.A. in sociology and in 1952 from Columbia University with an M.A. in elementary education. She had an early career in child care and preschool education, culminating in her directorship of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center in New York. From 1959 to 1964 she was a consultant to the Day Care Division of New York City’s Bureau of Child Welfare.

In 1964, Chisholm was elected New York state assemblywoman, representing the 55th district in New York City. In 1968 she became the first African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives after defeating Republican James Farmer. When she was assigned to the House Forestry Committee, she protested and demanded reassignment. She was placed on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. She supported Hale Boggs as House Majority Leader over John Conyers. Subsequently, Boggs assigned her to the powerful, Education and Labor Committee. In 1969 she was one of the founding members of Congress Black Caucus. When she retired from Congress in 1982, she was the third highest ranking member.

In 1972, Chisholm announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. She campaigned and entered primaries in 12 states, winning 28 delegates and 152 first ballot votes. Chisholm served as a delegate to the Democratic National Mid-Term Conference in 1974 and as a Democratic National Committee member. After retiring from politics Chisholm was named to the Purington Chair at Mount Holyoke College where she taught political science for four years. In 1984, Chisholm co-founded the National Political Congress of Black Women. She spent the next year as a visiting scholar at Spelman College. In 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated Chisholm as ambassador to Jamaica, but due to declining health, she withdrew her name from further consideration. A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Chisholm was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993. She retired to Florida and died there on January 1, 2005.

Chisholm was the author of Unbossed & Unbought (1970) and The Good Fight (1973). She was a member of the NAACP, the National Association of Colored Women, and the League of Women Voters. She has won numerous awards during her life including the 1965 Woman of Achievement Award presented by Key Women Inc. and the 1969 Sojourner Truth Award given to her by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.

WILLIAM CLAY (1931– ) Civil Rights Activist, Federal Legislator

William Clay, the first African American to represent the state of Missouri in the U.S. Congress, was born on April 30, 1931, in the lower end of what is now St. Louis’s 1st District. Clay received a degree in political science at St. Louis University, where he was one of four African Americans in a class of 1,100. After serving in the U.S. Army until 1955, Clay became active in a host of civil rights organizations including the NAACP Youth Council and CORE. During this time he worked as a cardio-graphic aide, bus driver, and insurance agent.

In 1959 and 1963, Clay was elected alderman of the predominantly African American 26th Ward. During his first term, he served nearly four months of a nine-month jail sentence for demonstrations at a local bank. In 1964, Clay stepped down from his alderman’s post to run for ward committeeman; he won and was reelected in 1968.

Clay’s election platform in 1969 included a number of progressive, even radical, ideas. He advocated that all penal institutions make provisions for the creation of facilities in which married prisoners could set up house with their spouses for the duration of their sentences. He branded most testing procedures and diploma requirements, as well as references to arrest records and periods of unemployment, unnecessary obstacles complicating the path of a prospective employee. In his view, a demonstrated willingness to work and an acceptance of responsibility should be the criteria determining one’s selection for a job.

Clay’s last job before his election to Congress was as race relations coordinator for Steamfitters Union Local 562. Subjected to considerable criticism from other St. Louis African Americans who labeled the union racist, Clay pointed out that dramatic changes in the hiring practices of the union since he had joined it in 1966 were responsible for the employment of 30 African American steamfitters in St. Louis. Still, Clay conceded that the high-paying job had led him to reduce his active involvement with the civil rights struggle to some degree.

As a congressman, Clay sponsored many pieces of legislation including the Hatch Act Reform Bill, the City Earnings Tax Bill, the IRS Reform Bill, and the Family and Medical Leave Bill, which was the first bill that President Bill Clinton signed into law. In 1993 the Hatch Act, which Clay championed for two decades, was signed into law. Clay has served as chairman of the Subcommittee on Postal Operations and Civil Service, the House Education and Labor Committee, and the House Administration Committee. He has also been a member of the board of directors for Benedict College, Tougaloo College, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. In 1990, Clay’s first book, To Kill or Not to Kill, was published. In 1993, Clay published Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress, 1870–1991. Clay served 32 years as Congressman from 1969 to 2001 and was succeeded in that position by his son William Lacy (Bill) Clay, Jr.

EVA CLAYTON (1934– ) Federal Legislator

Eva M. Clayton was born in Savannah, Georgia. Clayton earned a B.S. in 1955 from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. She earned an M.S. in 1963 from North Carolina Central University. She later attended the University of North Carolina Law School.

Clayton first ran for a congressional seat in 1968 without success. In the 1970s she was one of the founders of Soul City, a federally funded project to build a model planned community. She later worked for the campaign of Jim Hunt who was elected governor. Clayton was rewarded with the post of assistant secretary for the Department of Natural Resources. Clayton became active in politics serving as a Warren County Commissioner for 10 years and as chair of that commission for eight years.

When the First District Congressman died in office, Clayton was named to fill his unexpired term and was elected to a full term in 1992. However, her district and others came under fire as racially gerrymandered districts. Though the district is no longer an African American-majority district, Clayton held her seat until she retired in 2002. Clayton was the first woman to serve in Congress from North Carolina and the first African American elected to Congress from that state since 1898.

JAMES E. CLYBURN (1940– ) Federal Legislator

Clyburn was born July 21, 940 in Sumter, South Carolina. He was the eldest son of a fundamentalist preacher and civic-minded beautician. From his family he learned the importance of religious faith and community service. He was active in the NAACP from his youth, serving as president of his youth council when he was 12 years old. As a student at South Carolina State College in Orange-burg, he became a leader and activist. He participated in marches and demonstrations that sometimes led to arrests including the infamous 1960 Orangeburg rebellion in which 388 college students, including Clyburn, were arrested. He was also jailed during a 1961 march on the South Carolina State Capitol.

During one of his incarcerations, he met his wife and they were married on June 24, 1961. He began his career in Charleston as a teacher of history in the public schools. Later he worked as an employment counselor, director of youth and community development programs, and the executive of as program serving migrant and seasonal farm workers.

In 1970, he ran unsuccessfully for the South Carolina House of Representatives and later joined the staff of the newly elected governor. As an advisor to the governor, he was the first African American to hold such a position since Reconstruction. After four years on the governor’s staff, Clyburn was appointed the Human Affairs Commissioner of South Carolina, a position he held for almost two decades. Always committed to serving the people of his home state, South Carolina, Cly-burn ran twice for Secretary of State, in 1978 and again in 1986, but without success.

Clyburn resigned his position as Human Affairs Commissioner in 1992 and vigorously pursued his lifelong dream of serving in the U.S. Congress. With five Democratic primary hopefuls, Clyburn won handily with 56 percent of the vote, and avoided a runoff. When he easily won the general election, Clyburn became the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress from South Carolina since 1897.

In January 1993, Clyburn was sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina’s Sixth Congressional District. His leadership skills were evident from the outset. He was elected co-President of his freshman class. In 1999, he was unanimously elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and to a seat on the Appropriations Committee. In 2002, he was elected as Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Four years later, Clyburn was unanimously elected Chair of the Caucus.

On November 16, 2006, James Clyburn became the first South Carolinian and the second African American to be elected Majority Whip, the third ranking position in the House of Representatives. In addition to serving as House Majority Whip, Clyburn is the leader of the House Democrat’s Faith Working Group.

CARDISS COLLINS (1931– ) Accountant, Federal Legislator, Civil Rights Activist

Collins was born Cardiss Robertson on September 24, 1931. She moved to Detroit and graduated from Commerce High School. Collins then moved to Chicago where she worked as a secretary for the state’s Department of Revenue. She began studying accounting at Northwestern University and was promoted to accountant and then auditor.

In 1973, Collins was elected U.S. Representative from Illinois’ 7th district. She was elected to fill the seat vacated by her husband George Collins, who was killed in an airplane crash. She became the first African American and the first woman to hold the position of Democratic whip-at-large. Collins served on congressional subcommittees dealing with consumer protection, national security, hazardous materials, narcotic abuse and control, and energy concerns. At various points, she also served as active secretary, vice chair, and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Collins was a proponent of civil rights, airline safety, issues concerning women, affirmative action and anti-apart-heid legislation. She was Chairwoman of the Government Activities and Transportation Subcommittee from 1989 to 1991. In that position she worked for legislation to control the transport of toxic materials and the location of landfills and incinerators in minority communities. Collins introduced the Non-Discrimination in Advertising Act which sought to correct systematic discrimination against minority-owned ad agencies and broadcast stations. Her investigations into Title IX led to legislation that required institutions of higher education to disclose gender participation rates and program expenditures. Collins was a persistent advocate for universal health insurance and fought successfully for the establishment of a federal office on minority health.

In 1994, the CBC Foundation elected her the group’s chair. Early in 1995, Collins became the top Democrat on the Government Reform and Oversight Committee. Following her re-election on November 8, 1995, Collins announced her decision to retire after 24 years in the House. Her 12 terms in Congress from 1973 to 1997, made her the longest-serving African American female member of Congress. Collins belongs to the NAACP, Chicago Urban League, Northern Virginia Urban League, National Women’s Political Caucus, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Congressional Women’s Caucus, Alpha Kappa Psi, Black Women’s Agenda, and the National Council of Negro Women. Besides the degree she obtained from Northwestern in 1967, she has honorary degrees from Barber-Scotia College, Winston-Salem State University,and Spelman College. The Black Coaches Association (BCA) named Collins Sports-person of the Year in 1994, after she supported the group’s contention that standardized college entrance examinations are racially and culturally biased and, therefore, should not be used by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to establish athletic eligibility.

JOHN CONYERS (1929– ) Attorney, Federal Legislator, Federal Government Official, Civil Rights Activist, Organization Executive

Conyers was born in Detroit on May 16, 1929. In 1950, three years after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private and served in Korea before being honorably discharged in 1957 as a second lieutenant. He attended Wayne State University in Detroit, and, after studying in a dual program, he received a B.A. in 1957 and a J.D. in 1958.

Conyers served as a legislative assistant to Congressman John Dingell Jr. from 1958 to 1961 and was a senior partner in the law firm of Conyers, Bell & Townsend from 1959 to 1961. In 1961, he took a referee position with the Michigan Workman’s Compensation Department. In 1964, he won election as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives. He has represented the 14th District (it was the 1st District until 1993) since 1965. Conyers’ longevity in Congress is legendary. He is the second-longest serving current member of the House. Conyers is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and is considered the Dean of the CBC. He has the longest tenure in Congress of any African American and is considered one of the most liberal members of Congress.

Conyers had long been active in the Democratic Party, belonging to the Young Democrats, University Democrats, and serving as a precinct delegate to the Democratic Party. After his election, Conyers was assigned to the powerful House Judiciary Committee. In January 2007 when the Democrats became the majority in the 110th Congress, Conyers became chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Conyers worked on legislation dealing with civil rights, Medicare, immigration reform, and truth-in-packaging laws. He was an early opponent of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and an early proponent of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Following Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, Conyers introduced the bill to make King’s birthday a national holiday.

More recently, Conyers has supported efforts to regulate online gambling. Concerned about possible voter repression activities in the 2004 presidential election, Conyers issued a report, What Went Wrong in Ohio: The Conyers Report on the 2004 Presidential Election, that details reports of faulty electronic voting machines, statistical differences in exit poll results and actual votes registered, and the inability to validate the totals on machines used to tally votes. Since 9/11 Conyers has been vigilant in providing the necessary law enforcement and intelligence authority to the Administration to prevent terrorism without sacrificing the civil liberties and civil rights of citizens. An advocate for working families, Conyers has a history of fighting for equal pay for women and minorities, raising the minimum wage, full employment for all Americans, and universal health care

In 1994, Conyers, the most senior African American member of Congress, supported a grass-roots movement comprised of nearly 1,000 individuals seeking reparations from the federal government on behalf of their slave ancestors. The participants held their fifth annual Conference on Reparations in Conyers; hometown of Detroit. Other prominent African Americans lending support included Reverend Jesse Jackson. In 1998 and 1999, Conyers served as the ranking Democrat on the House Committee of Impeachment.

Conyers has been vice-chairman of the National Board of Americans for Democratic Action and the American Civil Liberties Union. He is on the executive board of the Detroit Chapter of the NAACP and belongs to the Wolverine Bar Association. He is the recipient of the 1967 Rosa Parks Award and in 1969 received an honorary law degree from Wilberforce University.

RONALD V. DELLUMS (1935– ) Social Worker, Federal Legislator, Organization Executive, Lecturer

Ronald Dellums was born in Oakland, California, on November 24, 1935. After attending McClymonds and Oakland Technical High Schools, Dellums joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1954 and was discharged after two years of service. He returned to school, receiving an associate of arts degree from Oakland City College in 1958, a B.A. from San Francisco State College in 1960, and an M.S.W. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1962.

For the next eight years, Dellums engaged in a variety of social work positions. He was a psychiatric social worker with the Berkeley Department of Mental Hygiene starting in 1962, and then two years later became the Bayview Community Center’s program director. Dellums spent one year as director of the Hunters Point Youth Opportunity Center and one year as a consultant to the Bay Area Social Planning Council. In 1967, Dellums worked as a program director for the San Francisco Economic Opportunity Council. From 1968 to 1970, Dellums lectured at San Francisco State College and the University of California’s School of Social Work. He also served as a consultant to Social Dynamics Inc.

Dellums was elected to the Berkeley City Council in 1967, and served until his election as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1971. As a representative he chaired the House Committee on the District of Columbia and served on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Facilities and Installations as well as the Sub-committee on Military Research and Development. In 1983, Dellums wrote Defense Sense: The Search for a Rational Military Policy.

Dellums, who chaired the Defense Policy Panel, became the first African American to head the House Armed Services Committee on January 27, 1993. Once a militant pacifist, he was recognized as one of the most highly regarded members of Congress to extensively work towards U.S. demilitarization. Dellums chastised U.S. President Bill Clinton for giving in to fear and ignorance, when the president did not follow through on his promise to lift the ban on homosexuals in the military. Dellums retired in 1998 after 27 years in Congress and became president of Healthcare International Management Company.

OSCAR STANTON DEPRIEST (1871–1951) County Commissioner, Federal Legislator

Oscar DePriest was the first African American to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the twentieth century. Born in Florence, Alabama, in 1871, DePriest moved to Kansas with his family at the age of six. His formal education consisted of business and bookkeeping classes that he completed before running away to Dayton, Ohio, with two white friends. By 1889, he had reached Chicago and become a painter and master decorator.

In Chicago, DePriest amassed a fortune in real estate and the stock market, and in 1904, he entered politics successfully when he was elected Cook County commissioner. In 1908, he was appointed an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention and in 1915 became Chicago’s first African American alderman. He served on the Chicago City Council from 1915 to 1917 and became Third Ward committeeman in 1924. In 1928, DePriest became the Republican nominee for the congressional seat vacated by fellow Republican Martin Madden. DePriest won the November election over his Democratic rival and an independent candidate to become the first African American from outside of the South to be elected to Congress.

Following his election to Congress, DePriest became the unofficial spokesman for the 11 million African Americans in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s. He proposed that states that discriminated against African Americans should receive fewer congressional seats. Also, he proposed that a monthly pension be given to ex-slaves over the age of 75. During the early 1930s, with the United States mired in the Depression, DePriest was faced with a difficult dilemma. Although he empathized with the plight of poor black and white Americans, he did not support the emergency federal relief programs proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt. Rather, DePriest and his fellow Republicans believed that aid programs should be created and implemented by individual states or local communities. DePriest’s stance on the issue of federal relief programs dismayed many of his constituents. In 1934, he was defeated by Arthur Mitchell, the first African American Democrat elected to serve in Congress.

DePriest remained active in public life, serving from 1943 to 1947 as alderman of the Third Ward in Chicago. His final withdrawal from politics came about after a dispute with the Republican Party. DePriest returned to his real estate business, and he died on May 12, 1951.

CHARLES C. DIGGS JR. (1922–1998) Former Federal Legislator

Charles Cole Diggs Jr. was born in Detroit on December 2, 1922. His father, an undertaker and funeral home owner, was elected into Michigan State Legislature in the 1940s. Diggs attended the University of Michigan and Fisk University in Nashville. After serving in the Air Force during World War II, he earned a B.S. in Mortuary Science from Wayne State University in 1946.

Upon receiving his degree, Diggs joined his father in the family mortuary business and soon followed him into politics. Diggs was elected to his father’s seat in the state senate in 1951, and was elected to Congress in 1954 as a representative of Michigan’s Thirteenth District.

Diggs was Michigan’s first African American representative. During his early years in Congress, he emerged as a strong voice for the civil rights movement, attending the Emmett Till murder trial in Mississippi as an observer, calling for the desegregation of public transportation, and traveling to the flashpoint of Selma, Alabama in the 1960s. In 1969, Diggs was a key player in organizing the Congressional Black Caucus.

In the 1970s Diggs chaired the African Affairs Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Relations. During this period he pressed for the elimination of apartheid segregation in South Africa, and advocated U.S. aid to newly independent African nations. Trans-Africa, a “think tank” devoted to African affairs, was founded in Diggs’s office in 1978. From 1973-1978 he held the chairmanship of the House District Committee, which was charged with overseeing the affairs of Washington, D.C. His work on the committee played a major role in the establishment of a home-rule government for the District of Columbia.

In 1978, Diggs was charged with illegally diverting $60,000 in office operating funds to pay his own personal expenses. He easily won reelection that year, but was soon convicted of the charges. Diggs was censured by the House and stripped of his committee memberships. He resigned his seat in 1980 after 25 years in Congress.

Following appeals of his conviction, Diggs served seven months in prison. He returned to the mortuary business following his release. During the 1980s, he earned a political science degree from Howard University, and also launched a brief comeback attempt with an unsuccessful run for a Maryland state legislative seat. Diggs died of a stroke in Washington, D.C., on August 24, 1998.

DAVID DINKINS (1927– ) Attorney, Municipal Government Official, State Legislator

In September of 1989, David Dinkins surprised political observers by defeating incumbent Mayor Edward I. Koch in New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary. Two months later, in the November election, he defeated Republican contender Rudolph Giuliani. Dinkins’s victory marked the first time an African American was elected as mayor of New York. Dinkins thus faced the difficult task of leading a racially polarized and financially troubled city. While many supporters cited Dinkins’s calm, professional demeanor as having a soothing effect upon New York’s festering racial problems, others chided him for not responding forcefully enough to the many fiscal and social challenges facing the city.

David Dinkins was born in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1927. His parents separated when he was quite young and he moved to Harlem with his mother and sister. He returned to Trenton to attend high school. Following a stint in the U.S. Marines during World War II, he attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and graduated in 1950 with a B.S. In 1956, Dinkins graduated from the Brooklyn Law School. He became an attorney, and, eventually, a partner in the law firm of Dyett, Alexander, Dinkins, Patterson, Michael, Dinkins, and Jones.

Dinkins’s first foray into the world of politics occurred in 1965, when he won an election to the New York State Assembly. He served until 1967, but did not seek reelection after his district was redrawn. In 1972, Dinkins was appointed as president of elections for the City of New York and served for one year. Two years later, in 1975, he was appointed as city clerk and served until 1985. Dinkins ran for the office of Manhattan borough president in 1977 and 1981. He lost both elections by a wide margin. Dinkins ran again in 1985 and was elected. As Manhattan borough president, he was viewed as a mediator who tried to address a myriad of community concerns such as school decentralization, AIDS treatment and prevention services, and pedestrian safety.

As mayor, Dinkins remained true to the issues he had addressed as Manhattan borough president. Other causes he championed included tolerance and acceptance of gays and lesbians, economic parity for women and minorities, and affirmative action. Dinkins set up a program to provide government contracts to businesses owned by women and minorities. Though the program was blemished by faulty bookkeeping and by the complexity of determining which companies were truly eligible, Dinkins’s successor kept it in place.

In 1991, when riots erupted between African Americans and Jews in the Crown Heights neighborhood, Dinkins entreated both sides to think about their actions and possible consequences rather than react to the emotional volatility surrounding an incident in which a Jewish man’s automobile accidentally struck and killed an African American youth. When riots seized Los Angeles in 1992, most of the nation feared that the violence would spread to other large urban areas with mixed or predominately African American populations. But Dinkins was able to assuage his constituents and prevent the terror and destruction that incapacitated Los Angeles.

In November of 1993, Dinkins’ bid for reelection fell short when he was narrowly defeated by Rudolph W. Giuliani. Dinkins left office on December 31, 1993. Poor management had been an Achilles heel of the Dinkins administration. In 1994, the New York Court of Appeals fined the city more than $3.5 million to compensate 5,000 homeless families forced to live in inadequate shelters. In 1994, Dinkins began hosting a radio talk show. Later in the year, he became a member of the AMREP Corp. board of directors and began teaching at Columbia University. Dinkins successfully underwent triple bypass heart surgery in 1995 and continues his professorship in the practice of public affairs in his role as senior fellow at the Barnard-Columbia Center for Urban Policy.

JULIAN C. DIXON (1934–2000) Attorney, Federal Legislator, Women’s Rights Activist

Julian C. Dixon was born August 8, 1934, in Washington, D.C. He served in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1960, and received a B.S. in political science from California State University and an LL.B. from Southwestern University Law School in 1967. In 1972, Dixon was elected on the Democratic ticket to the California State Assembly. In 1978, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

While in the House of Representatives, Dixon served on the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, West Point Board of Supervisors, and the Appropriations Sub-Committee on Foreign Operations. He also chaired the Appropriations Sub-Committee on the District of Columbia. This latter appointment made Dixon the first African American to chair an appropriations sub-committee. Dixon was an original co-sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment and was active in the Congressional Black Caucus.

Julian Dixon died on December 8, 2000, in Los Angeles, California, after suffering a heart attack. He was 66.

SHEILA DIXON (1953– ) Municipal Government Official

Dixon became the 48th Mayor of Baltimore on January 17, 2006 when her predecessor, Mayor Martin O’Malley was elected governor of Maryland. She ascended to the position of Mayor from her position as City Council President. She holds the distinction of being the first woman ever to hold this position. Dixon was first elected to the Baltimore City Council representing the 4th Council District and held that position until 1999 when she was elected City Council President. She was the first African American woman to serve as City Council President. Prior to her involvement in politics, Dixon was a community activist and initiated a number of programs for inner city residents including community food cooperatives and good nutrition.

A native of Baltimore, Dixon was educated in the Baltimore City public school system and received a bach-elor’s degree from Towson University and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She worked as an elementary school teacher and as a Head Start teacher. For 17 years, Dixon was an international trade specialist with the Maryland State Department of Business and Economic Development.

An avid athlete, Dixon has been a strong advocate for health issues such as HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and lead poisoning in children. Dixon champions programs that improve children’s health through a more nutritious diet and exercise routine.

A working mother of two, Dixon is grounded by her faith and continues to serve as a member of the Stewardess Board of Bethel A. M. E. Church in Baltimore.

KEITH ELLISON (1963– ) Attorney, State Legislator, Federal Government Official

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Ellison moved to Minnesota in 1987 when he entered the University of Minnesota Law School. He graduated from Law School in 1990. After Law School he practiced with the firm of Lindquist & Vennum for three years and then served as executive director of the Legal Rights Center. He returned to private practice with the law firm of Hassan & Reed, Ltd. where he was a litigator.

A long time community advocate, Ellison promoted peace, an increase in the state’s minimum wage, promoting civil and human rights, and improved police community relations. For eight years he hosted a public affairs program on community radio and frequently testified before state legislative committees on such issues as privacy, welfre reform, indigent defense, and environmental justice to name a few.

In 2002 Ellison was elected to the Minnesota State House of Representatives and re-elected in 2004. While there he promoted efforts to Minnesota children from environmental pollutants and toxins; he sponsored legislation to restore voting rights of ex-offenders; and successfully advocated for an increase in the state’s minimum wage.

In 2006 ran successfully for Congress with a message of “generosity and inclusiveness.”Ellison represents the 5th Congressional District, one of the most ethnically diverse districts in Minnesota that includes Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs. More than 80 languages are spoken in Minneapolis alone. With his election, Ellison made history as the first African American from Minnesota and also as the first Muslim ever elected to the U.S. Congress. A controversy arose when Ellison used a Koran belonging to Thomas Jefferson for his swearing-in ceremony.

MICHAEL ESPY (1953– ) Federal Government Official, Attorney

Espy was born November 30, 1953. He received a B.A. from Howard University in 1975, and a J.D. from the Santa Clara School of Law in 1978. After graduating, Espy practiced law in Yazoo City, Mississippi, and managed the Central Mississippi Legal Services from 1978 to 1980. Espy worked for the State of Mississippi as assistant secretary of state for public lands, and from 1984 to 1985, as assistant attorney general for consumer protection.

Espy was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986, where he served on numerous committees including the House Budget Committee; House Agricultural Committee; Select Committee on Hunger; SubCommittee on Cotton, Rice & Sugar; Sub-Committee on Conservation, Credit and Rural Development; and the Consumer Relations & Nutrition Committee. In addition, he chaired the Domestic Task Force on Hunger. In 1993, Espy was appointed secretary of agriculture by President Bill Clinton, the first African American to hold this post. However, Espy quickly became the subject of a federal ethics investigation into charges that he accepted gifts from companies that were regulated by the agency he headed. Although he denied any wrong-doing, Espy resigned his post on December 31, 1994. Nearly one year later, charges developed that Espy, while still a cabinet member, had improperly approached an agribusiness lobbyist for money, asking him to help pay off a debt incurred by his brother, who had unsuccessfully run for a House seat.

Espy was the object of a four-year investigation by an independent counsel who charged him with 30 counts of political corruption. The investigation was based on allegations of accepting $33,000 in free gifts, sports tickets, and expensive meals from companies that sought to benefit from good relations with Espy in their dealings with the Department of Agriculture. Espy was exonerated in December 1998 when the jury returned not guilty verdicts on all the counts.

Espy practices law in Mississippi. He is affiliated with the American Bar Association, Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association, and National Conference of Black Leaders, and is on the board of directors of the Jackson Urban League.

CHAKA FATTAH (1956– ) State Legislator, Civil Rights Activist

Born as Arthur Davenport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 21, 1956, Fattah was renamed after the legendary Zulu warrior Chaka by his mother, who with her husband, took new Swahili root names to represent their African heritage. Fattah’s mother, Falaka Fattah started the nationally known youth program House of Umoja as a means of combating and controlling gangs. At the age of 14 in an effort to assist his mother, Fattah received 20 abandoned houses in the neighborhood after giving a slide presentation and written proposal to the First Pennsylvania Bank. Falaka Fattah used the structures to expand the growing House of Umoja youth program.

Fattah continued to help with the youth program while in high school. With the help of Congressman Bill Gray, Fattah won a federal grant to renovate the houses. Meanwhile at Overbrook High School, Fattah organized the Youth Movement to Clean Up Politics. After attending the Community College of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania, and Wharton Community Education Program, Fattah worked as a special assistant to the managing director of the Office of Housing and Community Development in Philadelphia for two years.

In 1974, Fattah and his family launched No Gang War in’74 to end gang violence that had resulted in 40 deaths the previous year. He was so immersed in his mission of saving African American young males and preventing violence, that Fattah quit school, but later earned his GED. After receiving his GED, Fattah took classes at the Community College of Philadelphia in 1974 and 1975. Even though he became a single father at 18, he made caring for his infant daughter and completing his education his top priorities. He continued his education through the Wharton Community Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania and he was later able to transfer those credits towards a degree.

In 1978, Fattah ran for the City Commissioner, his first political race, but cam in fourth among 22 contenders. Because of his advocacy for the poor and his knowledge of housing, he was hired by the Director of the Department of Housing. He advanced rapidly and soon became a special assistant in the managing director’s.

Then in 1982, Fattah decided to run for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. His campaign was unique in that he enlisted and trained hundreds of students from his old high school as campaign workers. He successfully challenged a powerful political machine and became the youngest man ever elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly at the age of 25. While serving as a representative, Fattah was selected for the highly competitive

Senior Executive Program for State Officials at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Harvard officials were some impressed with Fattah’s exemplary performance, that they invited him to return and pursue the M.P.A. He declined the offer in order to keep his new seat in the Pennsylvania legislature. Subsequently, he completed a Master of Government Administration at the Fels School for State and Local Government at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1988, Fattah won an election for state senator in the Seventh District. As a state senator, Fattah raised money for the city of Philadelphia and pioneered programs to rebuild 100 of the country’s deteriorating cities. In 1994, Fattah won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has won an “outstanding contribution award” from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Simpson Fletcher Award for religion and race.

In 1994, he was a strong advocate for GEAR UP, the country’s largest college awareness initiative. As of 2006, the program had spent $2 billion program putting over 6 million students on the path to college. In 2003, Fattah in conjunction with municipal and public school officials started the CORE Philly program which has provided college scholarships to almost 7,000 Philadelphia.

Fattah continue to serve in Congress, but announced his plans to run for mayor in 2006. The current mayor is prohibited by term limits from seeking another term.

WALTER E. FAUNTROY (1933– ) Federal Legislator, Religious Leader, Civil Rights Activist

Born February 6, 1933, Walter E. Fauntroy represented the District of Columbia in the House of Representatives from 1971 until 1990. Fauntroy is a 1955 graduate of Virginia Union University and a 1958 graduate of Yale University Divinity School. In 1959, he became pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and has held that position for almost half a century.

He was Washington, D.C., coordinator for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, coordinator for the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, D. C. coordinator of the Meredith Mississippi Freedom March in 1966. and national coordinator for the Poor People’s Campaign in 1969. Fauntroy served as chairman of the caucus task force for the 1972 Democratic National Committee and of the platform committee of the National Black Political Convention. He was the chief architect of legislation in 1973 that permitted the District of Columbia to elect its own mayor and city council and engineered the passage by both the House and Senate of a constitutional amendment calling for full congressional representation for District of Columbia residents in the U.S. Congress.

During his tenure in the House of Representatives, Fauntroy built a record of achievement by playing key roles in the mobilization of African American political power from the National Black Political Convention in 1972 to the presidential elections of 1972 and 1976. For 15 years, Fauntroy chaired a bipartisan congressional task force on Haiti. In November of 1984, Fauntroy and two prominent national leaders launched the “Free South Africa Movement” (FSAM) with their arrest at the South African embassy. He served as co-chair of the steering committee of the FSAM. He was a member of the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control and co-sponsored the 1988 $2.7 billion anti-drug bill.

In the 95th Congress Fauntroy was a member of the House Select Committee on Assassinations and chairman of its Subcommittee on the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. He was a ranking member of the House Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs Committee and chairman of its Subcommittee on Government Affairs and Budget. He was also the first ranking member of the House District Committee.

Fauntroy was the recipient of several awards during his political career. In 1984, he was presented with the Hubert H. Humphrey Humanitarian Award by the National Urban Coalition. He also received honorary degrees from Georgetown University Law School, Yale University, and Virginia Union University. After leaving public service, Fauntroy founded Project We Care, a social service located in the Washington, D.C., area. The project is comprised of teams of ministers and church members who canvass neighborhoods in order to serve as conduits between residents and the city. Fauntroy also began his own company.

Fauntroy contracted tuberculosis in the mid-1990s. Through a diligent regimen, however, he remained healthy and actually became an unofficial spokesperson for the disease, urging the public to get tested. Then a discovery was made that he had incorrectly listed a church donation on a disclosure form presented to the Congress. In 1995, Fauntroy was sentenced to two-years probation, $1,000 fine, and 300 hours of community service after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of falsifying a financial report to Congress.

Continuing his fight for human rights, Fauntroy, a leader of the Free Sudan Movement, was arrested on April 13, 2001, for chaining himself to the gates of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., in a protest against Sudan’s black slave trade.

ADRIAN FENTY (1970– ) Municipal Government Official

Fenty is the youngest mayor ever elected in the District of Columbia. In one of the most expensive mayoral races ever, each candidate raised almost $2 million. Fenty defeated longtime Council Chair, Linda Cropp in an unprecedented victory because he carried every precinct in both the primary and the general elections. Fenty won the general election with 89 percent of the vote. Fenty and his team campaigned in every precinct and it is believed that they worked every block in the District.

A native of Washington, Fenty graduated from Oberlin College with a bachelor’s degree and received his J.D. from Howard University School of Law.

In 2001, Fenty won his first electoral position by defeating four-term incumbent Charlene Drew Jarvis to become the Ward 4 Councilmember. His performance regarding constituent services set a new standard. He attracted new jobs, businesses and housing in Ward 4; had nuisance properties violations enforced; and dealt with expanded community policing and improved police response times. During his first term, 12 schools and recreation center in Ward 4 were constructed or renovated. Fenty and another Council member in 2003 sponsored the legislation to ban smoking in nearly all indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants. In January 2007, this initial smoking ban will take full effect in the District

In 2004, Fenty easily won re-election and provided leadership for the passage of the School Modernization Act. The bill is important because it requires the Board of Education and Superintendent to develop a comprehensive Facilities Master Plan for the public school system; provides stable long-term funding to rebuild and modernize school facilities; and establishes an Advisory Committee to have over sight over the construction effort.


HAROLD E. FORD JR. (1970– ) Federal Legislator

Harold Eugene Ford, Jr. was born May 11, 1970 in Memphis Tennessee. His father, Harold Ford, Sr. was a congressman and a member of the long prominent African American Ford family of Memphis, TN. In addition to the Ford family’s involvement in public service and Democratic politics, members of the family were successfully involved in the mortuary business.

Ford, Jr. attended public school in Memphis, but when his father was elected to Congress in 1972, the family moved to Washington, DC. He graduated from St. Albans School for Boys and received his B. A. in American History from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. After graduation he worked on the staff of the Senate Budget committee and as a special assistant to the United States Department of Commerce. He later entered the University of Michigan Law School and graduated in 1996.

In 1996, Ford, Sr. did not seek re-election to a 12th term in Congress and this paved the way for the candidacy of his son, Harold Ford, Jr. for that position. Ford, Jr. campaigned vigorously while in his last semester in law school. Typically he left Michigan on Thursday afternoon or evening for Memphis and returned to school on Monday evening for classes the next day. His family’s name recognition, connections, and political organization, along with Ford, Jr.’s campaign skills made his Democratic primary victory predictable. He won the November election handily and was reelected four times with an average of 80 percent of the vote.

Ford gained national prominence when he was featured as a keynote speaker for the 2000 Democratic National Convention in support of then-Vice President Al Gore’s nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. Following the Democratic loses in 2002, Ford challenged Nancy Pelosi, then-House Minority Whip for House Democratic Leader. He made a very good showing, but was unsuccessful

While in Congress, Ford, Jr. was considered a moderate, but was self-described as a “pro-life” candidate who voted to ban same-sex marriage and benefits for same-sex couples. Ford, Jr. was one of the few Democrats who voted for the Bankruptcy Bill He opposed the President’s energy legislation which would allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

After a decade in Congress and with the retirement of Tennessee’s senior Senator, William Frist, M.D., Ford, Jr. launched his U.S. campaign on May 25, 2005. He was successful in raising funds nationally and within the state. He assembled an effective campaign staff with numerous volunteers throughout the state and won the Democratic primary overwhelmingly. For much of the campaign, it was too close to call, though Ford, Jr. had a slight lead at various times, however, Ford, Jr. lost the Senate race by 3 percentage points.

In 2007, Ford was named chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council. He was also appointed a visiting professor of public policy at Vanderbilt University where he teaches a class on American political leadership. In February, Ford, Jr. was named a vice chairman and senior policy advisor at Merrill Lynch & Co. Finally, in March 2007, Ford, Jr. joined the Fox News Channel as a political commentator and analyst on international affairs and the 2008 elections.

SHIRLEY C. FRANKLIN (1945– ) Municipal Government Official

A native of Philadelphia, Franklin is the 58th Mayor of Atlanta, the first woman to be elected Mayor, and the first African American woman to preside over any major city in the South. She graduated from Howard University in 1968 with a B.A. in sociology. She later earned an M. A. in the same field from the University of Pennsylvania in 1969. She worked as a contract officer with the U. S. Department of Labor and as an instructor at Talladega College before marrying and relocating to Atlanta in 1972.

In 1978, Franklin began her career with the city of Atlanta as the director and commissioner of cultural affairs during Maynard Jackson’s tenure as mayor. From 1982-1990, Franklin was the chief administrative officer for Mayor Andrew Young. During those eight years there were many successful large-scale public works projects for which Franklin was responsible including the construction of a new city hall and municipal court building, 14,000 units of new housing, and expansion of Hartsfield International Airport. When Maynard Jackson was elected to a third term, Franklin became executive officer for operations.

Franklin left city government from 1991 to 1996 to serve as senior vice president for external relations of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. She was responsible for the development of Centennial Olympic Park and worked with various labor unions, civil rights, and other community groups to insure their participation in all aspects of hosting the Olympic Games.

Before running for mayor in 2000, Franklin worked with several development companies and headed her own firm, Shirley Clark Franklin and Associates, a community affairs management and consulting firm. In 1998, Franklin served as lead person in Roy Barnes transition team when he was elected governor of Georgia.

In a very close race, Franklin defeated her two opponents, who were both Council veterans, without a runoff. Succeeding Bill Campbell as mayor, whose administration was under federal investigation for corruption, Franklin emphasized integrity and accountability in city government. Her administration is characterized by efficiency, transparency, and effectiveness. A results-oriented administrator, Franklin has made tough fiscal decisions that have resulted in five balanced budgets and generated a health reserve for the City. Most recently, Franklin led the initiative to secure the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers for the City of Atlanta with corporate and community partnerships that guaranteed a loan for $32 million to accomplish this. During her in inauguration in 2002, Franklin vowed to make Atlanta a cleaner and better place for families by making city government more open and responsive.

GARY A. FRANKS (1953– ) Federal Legislator, Organization Executive

Gary Franks was born February 9, 1953, in Waterbury, Connecticut. He received a B.A. from Yale University in 1975. Before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Franks was active in local politics and business. He was president of GAF Realty in Waterbury. Franks was also on the Board of Alderman, vice-chairman of the Zoning Board, a member of the Environmental Control Commission, director of the Naugatuck (Connecticut) chapter of the American Red Cross, president of the Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Waterbury Foundation.

In 1991, Franks was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, thus becoming the only African American Republican in the House until J. C. Watts was elected in 1995. Franks served on the Armed Services Committee, Small Business Committee, and the Select Committee on Aging. In 1993, he was appointed to the highly prized House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Franks has fulfilled a controversial role as an African American opposed to affirmative action and other programs based on preference for women and minorities. With such views, Franks had his share of congressional ruckuses. Formerly the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus, he was actually voted out of the organization in 1993 by members who did not consider Franks a legitimate African American spokesperson. In 1994, Franks testified in support of a lawsuit to dismantle the African American-majority 11th Congressional District of Cynthia McKinney, an African American Democrat from Georgia. Franks and his political cohorts felt that the district had been improperly designed to increase African American voting strength in the area at the expense of the white electorate.

Franks was known as one of the Republican party’s most prominent African American lawmakers. He entered the political landscape at a time when African American Republicans were nonexistent as members of the Senate and absent at municipal and state levels as mayors of major American cities or governors of any states. He was defeated in 1997 after serving three terms. Franks has been named the 1980 Outstanding Young Man by the Boy’s Club and Man of the Year by the Negro Professional Women’s Club.

LENORA FULANI (1950– ) Political Party Leader, Psychologist, Social Therapist

Born Lenora Branch on April 25, 1950, in Chester, Pennsylvania, she changed her name to Lenora Branch Fulani in 1973. She studied at Hofstra University on scholarship and earned her bachelor’s degree. She furthered her education in social therapy with an M.S.T. from Columbia University Teachers College and a Ph.D. from the New York Institute for Social Therapy and Research. She worked as a guest researcher at Rockefeller University from 1973 to 1977. Affiliated with the Institute, Fulani opened her own therapy practice in Harlem in the 1970s, the Eastside Center for Short Term Psychotherapy. She also founded the National Alliance Party (NAP), a political party for social change in

Fulani has made bids for election as lieutenant governor of New York in 1982 and governor in 1986 and 1990. She also campaigned for election as mayor of New York City in 1985. In 1988 and 1992, she campaigned for election as president of the United States. She made history in 1988 when she became the first woman and the first African American to be included on the presidential ballot in all 50 states. In 1992, she became the first woman to qualify for federal primary matching funds to run her campaign. In 1994, she made a run again for governor of New York, garnering 21 percent of the votes in the primary. Following her gubernatorial defeat, Fulani contributed to the formation of the Patriot Party. The Patriot Party planned to gain wide-range support by appealing to voters independent of the two main political parties in the 1996 elections. The formation of this party was followed by Fulani’s creation of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party. In the 2000 presidential election, Fulani made news by backing Reform Party candidate, Pat Buchanan. In 2004, Fulani was a key supporter for Ralph Nader’s candidacy for President as an independent. In 2005, Fulani assembled a network of black and Latino community leaders to organize an unprecedented 47 percent of African-American voters to vote for Independent/Republican Mike Bloomberg.

Fulani has written widely on the subject of politics. She wrote Independent Black Leadership in America in 1990, and The Making of a Fringe Candidate in 1992. In the mid-1990s, her newspaper column, “This Way for Black Empowerment” was carried in more than 140 newspapers nationwide. She is the founder and executive producer of the “All-Stars Talent Show,” the largest anti-violence program for inner city youth in the country. She hosted her own cable television show Fulani!, which aired in more than 20 cities nationwide each week. Fulani remains a leading advocate for the Reform Party and chairs the Committee for a Unified Independent Party. Fulani combines her career as a psychologist and social activist to crusade for structural political reforms such as term limits, ballot access reform, and same day voter registration.

W. WILSON GOODE (1938– ) Municipal Government Official

W. Wilson Goode was born on August 19, 1938, in Seaboard, North Carolina. He received a B.A. in 1961 from Morgan State University. Goode served in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1963, where he earned a commendation medal for meritorious service and the rank of captain with the military police. In 1968, he earned an M.P.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Between 1966 and 1978 Goode held a wide variety of positions including probation officer, building maintenance supervisor, insurance claims adjuster, and president of the Philadelphia Council for Community Advancement. From 1978 until 1980, Goode was chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission and was managing director of the City of Philadelphia from 1980 to 1982. In 1983, Goode was elected the first African American mayor of Philadelphia.

Goode’s tenure as mayor of Philadelphia was marred by charges that he was a weak and ineffective leader who was unable to handle the traditionally rough and tumble politics of Philadelphia city government. In May of 1985, during a violent confrontation between the city of Philadelphia and members of MOVE, a radical “back-to-nature” cult that took over a row house in West Philadelphia, Goode ordered police to drop a bomb on the roof of the house to evict MOVE members. A massive explosion and fire resulted that killed 11 people, destroyed 61 homes, and caused $8 million in damage.

Goode barely won reelection in 1987 and was faced with mounting problems. Decades of corruption, racial tension, and urban decay had dampened Philadelphia’s civic spirit and created a sense of apathy. Acute tensions between Goode and the city council resulted in a huge budget deficit. In September of 1990, Goode announced that the city was on the verge of bankruptcy. Although a consortium of banks helped to avert disaster, Philadelphia reported a massive $200 million deficit in June of 1991.

Barred by law from seeking a third term, Goode was succeeded as mayor by Edward Rendell in January of 1992. That same year, he wrote his autobiography In Goode Faith. After leaving office, Goode started his own company.

In 2000 at the age of 62, Goode earned a D. Min. from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation was about moving congregations from looking inward to looking outward to their community. His research showed that a congregation would become involved in the problems of a community if asked to by their faith leader. When he was asked to become the director of Amachi, a nonprofit mentoring and youth development program for children of the incarcerated, it was a natural. Using a faith-based recruitment strategy, Goode called upon pastor to enlist and train their members as mentors. With Goode at the helm, this program has grown exponentially and now has more than 240 programs across the country.

In 2006 Good won The Purpose Prize for his work with Amachi in mentoring children of incarcerated parents.

WILLIAM H. GRAY III (1941– ) Politician, United Negro College Fund President, Special Envoy to Haiti

Born to a minister and a high school teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on August 20, 1941, William H. Gray III earned a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College in 1963, serving during his senior year as an intern for Pennsylvania congressman Robert N. C. Nix. He received a master’s of divinity from Drew Theological School in 1966 and a master’s of theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1970. He also attended the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Oxford University.

Gray served as assistant pastor at Union Baptist Church in Montclair, New Jersey, from 1964 until 1966. He was promoted to senior pastor in 1966 and served in this capacity until 1972. Gray moved to Philadelphia in 1972 to become pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church. Gray still serves as Senior Pastor of the 5,000 member congregation.

In 1976, Gray decided to become involved in politics, challenging Robert N. C. Nix for his congressional seat. His first attempt to unseat Nix was unsuccessful. However, in 1978, Gray defeated Nix and was elected to Congress. He became a vocal and influential member of the House, challenging the administration of Ronald Reagan on such issues as social spending and U.S. support for the government of South Africa. He served on the House Budget Committee, becoming chair in 1985 and earned the admiration and respect of even his most implacable political foes. Gray was a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for 12 years. For ten of those twelve years, he served on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. He was also vice-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Gray left the House of Representatives in 1991 to head the United Negro College Fund, and he currently serves as president and CEO of that organization. He was President of UNCF from 1991 to 2004. He now works for the government relations firm of Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney in Washington, D.C.

On May 8, 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed Gray as his special envoy to Haiti. In this capacity, Gray played an instrumental role in the eventual removal of Haiti’s brutal military government in October of 1994.

Gray was honored in 1997 as one of four recipients of the “Four Freedoms” Award. He has also served on the boards of directors of numerous companies, including Chase Manhattan Bank, EDS Corporation, Visteon Corporation, and Pfizer Corporation.

PATRICIA ROBERTS HARRIS (1924–1985) Organization Executive, Diplomat, Civil Rights Activist, Federal Government Official, Attorney, Educator

Born in Mattoon, Illinois, on May 31, 1924, Harris received her undergraduate degree in 1945 from Howard University. While at Howard, Harris also served as vice-chairman of a student branch of the NAACP and was involved in early nonviolent demonstrations against racial discrimination. Harris worked for the YWCA in Chicago and served as executive director of Delta Sigma Theta, an African American sorority, from 1953 to 1959. After completing postgraduate work at the University of Chicago and at American University, she earned her Ph.D. in jurisprudence from George Washington University Law School in 1960.

An attorney and professor before she entered politics, Harris was appointed co-chairman of the National Women’s Committee on Civil Rights by President John F. Kennedy and later was named to the Commission on the Status of Puerto Rico. In 1965, Harris was chosen by

President Lyndon B. Johnson to become U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, the first African American woman ever to be named an American envoy. In 1969 Harris was appointed dean of the Howard University Law School and served in that role until 1970 when she was selected to join a major Washington, D.C., law firm.

Harris served as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and also secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Jimmy Carter. Under President Ronald Reagan, she served as ambassador to Luxembourg, becoming the first African American woman to hold this diplomatic rank in U.S. history. Harris was also the first African American woman to serve in a cabinet post. In 1982, Harris ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Washington, D.C. She became a law professor at George Washington University in 1983 and remained there until her death from cancer on March 23, 1985.

WILLIE W. HERENTON (1940– ) Municipal Government Official

A native of Memphis, Herenton is the first mayor in the city’s history to be elected to a fourth consecutive term as mayor. This occurred in 2003, just 12 years after his 1991 election as the first African American Mayor of Memphis.

Herenton is a graduate of LeMoyne Owen College and the University of Memphis. He complete graduate study for his doctorate at Southern Illinois University. From 1979 to 1991 Herenton served as superintendent of the Memphis City Schools. Herenton’s administration has posted balanced budgets and had surpluses throughout his tenure, though there have been two property tax increases in 12 years.

He has served on several corporate boards including First Tennessee National Corporation and Promus Companies Incorporated. In 2002 Herenton was named 2002 Municipal Leader of the Year by American City & County Magazine because of his visionary leadership.

ALEXIS HERMAN (1947– ) Federal Government Official

Alexis Margaret Herman was born in Mobile, Alabama on July 16, 1947. Her father was said to be the first African American politician elected in the South since Reconstruction. She attended Edgewood College and Spring Hill College before earning her B.A. from Xavier in 1969. She did graduate work at the University of South Alabama.

After graduation from Xavier, she worked for a short time with Interfaith Mobile. She began her professional career in 1969 as a social worker with Catholic Charities developing employment training opportunities for unemployed youth and directing programs for training and employing Black women in rural areas of the southeast. In 1976, President Carter appointed the 29 year old Herman as director of the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau. She was the youngest person to ever hold that position and was also the highest ranking African American in the Labor Department.

In 1981, after the election of President Reagan, she founded A. M. Herman and Associates, a marketing and management company, but remained active in Democratic politics. In 1989, Herman was selected by a longtime friend Ron Brown, chair of the Democratic National Committee, to become chief of staff. By 1992, Herman was selected the CEO of the very successful Democratic National Convention held at Madison Square Garden where Clinton was Clinton won the Democrats’ overwhelming endorsement.

After Clinton’s election as president, Herman was named deputy director of the Clinton-Gore presidential Transition Office. In this capacity, she had responsibility for facilitating the shift from 12 years of Republican control of government to the Democrats. Herman was one of five assistants to President Clinton when she became director of the Office of Public Liaison where her responsibilities primarily entailed managing interaction between the Clinton administration and the public.

After Clinton won his second term, he appointed Herman as Secretary of Labor. She was the first African American to be named to the cabinet post. Her appointment was initially opposed by Republicans in Congress and labor unions, but she won confirmation. During her tenure at the Department of Labor, Herman instituted a global child labor standard; moved people from welfare to work with dignity; and launched an aggressive work initiative directed at unemployed youth. Her efforts focused on bringing minorities and women into the economic mainstream.

Despite her stellar reputation and success as a businesswoman, Herman was investigated after allegations for taking kickbacks and involvement in improper fundraisers held at the White House. She was completely exonerated and the inquiry ended.

Herman is the chair and chief executive officer of New Ventures, Inc. She chairs the Coca-Cola Company Task Force and the Toyota Advisory Board on Diversity. She now serves on the board of several major corporations including Cummins, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, and Prudential.

JESSE L. JACKSON JR. (1965– ) United States Congressman, Civil Rights Activist, Organization Executive, Author

U.S. Representative Jesse Louis Jackson Jr. was born to the Reverend Jesse and Jacqueline (Davis) Jackson Sr. on March 11, 1965, in Greenville, South Carolina. He attended Le Mans Academy and St. Albans Episcopal Prep School. After completing his secondary education, Jackson entered North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University in Greensboro, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1987 with a bachelor of science degree in business management. Three years later, he earned the master of arts degree in theology from Chicago Theological Seminary. Jackson continued his education and received the juris doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1993. Two years before completing his juris doctorate, Jackson married Sandra Lee Stevens.

In 1986, Jackson was arrested for taking part in a demonstration against apartheid at the South African embassy in Washington, D.C. He also participated in protests held in front of the South African consulate in Chicago, Illinois. Jackson’s long-time stance against South Africa’s system of racial discrimination provided him the unique opportunity of being the only American to share the platform with Nelson Mandela, the major symbol of the struggle for human rights in the Republic of South Africa, following Mandela’s February of 1990 release from prison.

During the Democratic National Convention in 1988, Jackson was the last of his siblings to introduce his father, the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. The younger Jackson’s introduction of his father catapulted him to a successful public speaking career. While pursuing his law degree, Jackson Jr. frequently campaigned for Democratic candidates. After graduating from the University of Illinois College of Law, he became the national field director for the Rainbow Coalition, a political action band conceived by the Reverend Jackson Sr. While serving in this position, Jackson established a nationwide non-aligned program that successfully registered a multitude of new voters. He also inaugurated a voter education program to educate citizens about the importance of participating in the political system including how to utilize technology to win at the polls and to more effectively participate in the political arena. Additionally, he established new local chapters of Operation Push (People United to Save Humanity).

Jackson, born during the African American struggle to obtain the ballot, resigned his position at the Rainbow Coalition in 1995. A Democrat, he entered the world of politics as a candidate for Chicago’s Second Congressional District, a seat previously held by Mel Reynolds. After winning the primary and general elections, Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr. became a member of the 104th Congress in the U.S. House of Representatives on December 12, 1995. Jackson co-wrote the book, Legal Lynching, with his father in 1996.

Self-described as “a public servant—not a politician—with a progressive agenda,” Representative Jackson is part of a new generation of African American leaders who see their work as an extension of their parents’ struggle to eradicate the remaining covert vestiges of discrimination.


MAYNARD JACKSON (1938– ) Attorney, Municipal Government Official, Organization Executive

Jackson was born on March 23, 1938, in Dallas, Texas the son of a minister, Maynard Jackson, Sr. and a college professor, Irene Dobbs Jackson. Though born in Texas, he spent much of his youth growing up in Atlanta. At the age of 14 he was admitted to Morehouse College as a Ford Foundation Early Admissions Scholar. He graduated with a B.A. in 1956, with a concentration in history and political science. After graduation, he worked for the Ohio State Bureau of Unemployment Compensation as claims examiner from 1957 to 1958 and as a sales manager and associate district sales manager for P. F. Collier Inc. from 1958 to 1961.

In 1964, Jackson received a J.D. from the North Carolina Central University School of Law and then worked as a lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board. In 1968 and 1969 Jackson was named the managing attorney and director of community relations for the Emory Community Legal Service Center in Atlanta and was a senior partner in the law firm of Jackson, Patterson & Parks from 1970 to 1973.

Jackson had been active in Democratic politics and was the vice-mayor of Atlanta from 1970 to 1974. In 1974, he was elected mayor becoming the first African American mayor of a major city in the Deep South. At the time of his election to Atlanta’s highest office, Jackson was the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city. He remained mayor of Atlanta until 1982. Jackson returned to private life and worked as a bond lawyer before being reelected mayor of Atlanta in 1989. The selection of Atlanta as host of the 1994 Super Bowl and the site of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games were two of the greatest achievements of Jackson’s second term.

In 1993, Jackson vetoed domestic partnership legislation, claiming that the City Council did not provide details on funding benefits for partners of city employees. The response of the gay and lesbian community was fervent, as leaders of 40 Atlanta-based lesbian and gay organizations coordinated a barrage of protest actions during that year’s Fourth of July holiday. Jackson was also deluged with complaints from angry city taxpayers who felt that Jackson’s decision to order more than $45,000 worth of furniture for the mayor’s office was government waste in action. Jackson admitted that city purchasing guidelines had not been followed.

Even after leaving office, Jackson has fallen into controversy. Accusations were levied against him that while he was in office, he improperly influenced the manner in which a $1.3 billion financial portfolio was invested as a city audit revealed that nearly 80 percent of the city’s 1993 investments were turned over to a firm whose principal was Jackson’s 1989 campaign treasurer. Jackson emphatically denied the allegations that he swayed any investment decisions.

Despite the alleged improprieties, Jackson earned a reputation as an aggressive and outspoken mayor. He had the difficult task of leading Atlanta through the difficult transition years from predominantly white leadership to a mixed power structure. Under Jackson’s leadership Atlanta made serious gains as a financial center and distribution hub. Expanded international convention facilities turned Atlanta into a major convention center. In 1981, the prestigious Almanac of Places Rated named Atlanta the best major city in which to live and work. Jackson had taken advantage of affirmative action programs to improve city housing and social conditions. He also transformed the mass transit system into one of the most modern in the country.

Shortly after his last term, Jackson became chairman of the board and a majority stockholder in Jackson Securities Inc., a banking firm. He also held interest in Jackmont Hospitality, a group of real estate companies that hoped to stimulate the economy of some of Atlanta’s depressed areas. In 1995, Jackson became the principal owner of a joint venture to operate a TGI Friday’s restaurant at the city’s Hartfield International Airport. Many complained that Jackson’s use of Atlanta’s affirmative action program to land the premier location was an abuse of a system designed to aid the disadvantaged.

Jackson has served as vice-chairman of the White House Committee on Balanced Growth & Economic Development and the White House Committee on the Windfall Profits Tax. He also served as the National Chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute from 2001–2002. He was also the founding chairman of the Atlanta Economic Development Corporation and the chairman of the Atlanta Urban Residential Finance Authority. Jackson belonged to the Georgia and New York Bar Associations, the National League of Cities, and the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.

In 1975, Jackson was named to Time magazine’s list of 200 young American leaders and Ebony magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential Black Americans in 1976. In 1994, Jackson and six other Morehouse graduates were honored at the college’s sixth annual Candle in the Dark awards dinner.

Jackson died on June 23, 2003 in Arlington, Virginia after suffering a heart attack. He was survived by his second wife, Valerie Richardson, an Atlanta public radio personality, and five children.

SHEILA JACKSON LEE (1950– ) Federal Legislator

Jackson Lee was born in Queens in 1950 and was raised in New York City. She graduated in 1972 from Yale University with a B.A. and then, in 1975, graduated from the University of Virginia Law School with a J.D. Her husband was an official at the University of Houston, and Jackson Lee began her practice in Texas.

After three unsuccessful attempts to become a local judge, Jackson Lee was appointed an associate judge in the Houston municipal court system in 1987. Three years later was elected to an at-large position on the city council. In 1994, she defeated an incumbent Democrat in the congressional primary and was then elected to the seat once held by Barbara Jordan, a mentor.

She has been a member of the U. S. House of Representatives since 1995. She serves on the House Judiciary committee and has used this position to direct attention to civil rights, and abortion rights. Jackson-Lee

has spoken out against racism in South Africa; advocated for sanctions against Sudan; was arrested along with other members of Congress and activists outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington for disorderly conduct while protesting the ethnic cleansing in Darfur.

Jackson Lee is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and served as the first vice-chairwoman of the CBC. In 1997, she was named the caucus’s whip. Jackson Lee served on the House Judiciary Committee that impeached President Clinton and made a name for herself as one of the president’s staunchest defenders. She won reelection in 1998 with 90 percent of the vote and has won each of her subsequent elections. Jackson Lee is chair of the Congressional Children’s Caucus, a senior member of the Homeland Security Committee, and the ranking member on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims.

BARBARA JORDAN (1936–1996) Educator, Federal Legislator, Civil Rights Activist, State Legislator, Attorney

Barbara Jordan was born on February 21, 1936, in Houston, Texas. Afflicted with multiple sclerosis, she died of viral pneumonia, a complication of leukemia, on January 17, 1996.

Jordan attended Phyllis Wheatley High School, and in 1952, graduated as a member of the Honor Society. In 1956, Jordan received a B.A. from Texas Southern University in history and political science. She went on to Boston University, where she earned a J.D. in 1959. After teaching at Tuskegee Institute for one year, Jordan returned to Houston, where she practiced law and was appointed administrative assistant to a Harris County judge.

In 1966, Jordan was elected to the Texas Senate. She was the first African American to serve as president pro tem of that body and to chair the important Labor and Management Relations Committee.

In 1972, Jordan was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, thus becoming the first African American woman from a southern state elected to Congress. As a member of Congress, she served on the Judiciary Committee which heard the impeachment proceedings of President Richard M. Nixon and was the first African American selected as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 1976. While a representative, Jordan served on the House Judiciary and

Government Operations committees. During her terms in both the Texas Senate and U.S. House, Jordan was known as a champion of civil rights for all and especially minorities and the poor.

From 1979 to 1982, Jordan taught at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. In 1982, she was made holder of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Centennial Chair of National Policy, a post she held until her death. After 15 years out of politics, Jordan was appointed as chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform by U.S. president Bill Clinton in 1993. Jordan was credited for her efforts to address the burgeoning U.S. hostility towards immigrants.

Jordan co-authored two books, Barbara Jordan: A Self-Portrait (1979) and The Great Society: A Twenty Year Critique (1986). She also served on the Democratic Caucus Steering and Policy Committee, and in 1976 and 1992, she was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention.

Jordan belonged to the American Bar Association as well as the Texas, Massachusetts, and District of Columbia bars. She was a member of the Character Counts Coalition, a group whose aim is to address the values of American society, particularly emphasizing youth. She had been on the board of directors of the Mead Corporation and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Jordan is the recipient of a long list of awards and honors including the 1984 Eleanor Roosevelt Humanities Award, membership in the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame (public service category, 1984), and listing in both the Ladies Home Journal “100 Most Influential Women in America” and Time magazine’s 1976 “Ten Women of the Year” list. She was bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honor in 1994 when President Clinton gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her distinguished career in public service. Jordan had also received 27 honorary doctorate degrees. The LBJ School of Public Affairs has named an endowed chair in her honor and the Barbara Jordan Forum each year in February around the time of her birthday.

SHARON PRATT KELLY (1944– ) Attorney, Municipal Government Official, Media Executive, Educator

Kelly was born Sharon Pratt in Washington, D.C., on January 30, 1944. For a time, she worked under the name Sharon Pratt Dixon, assuming the surname of her former husband. She graduated from Howard University with a B.A. in political science in 1965 and received a J.D. in 1968. In 1967, she edited the Howard University law school journal.

From 1970 through 1971, Kelly was the house counsel for the Joint Center for Political Studies in Washington, D.C. Between 1971 and 1976 she was an associate in the law firm of Pratt and Queen, her father’s firm. During this time she also taught at Antioch Law School. In 1976, Kelly began a 14-year association with the Potomac Electric Power Company where she gained a reputation as a decisive, hardworking, and effective utilities executive. While there, she held increasingly responsible positions including associate general counsel, director of consumer affairs, and vice president of public policy.

In 1990, Kelly left the private sector to win the office of mayor of Washington, D.C. In doing so she became the first African American woman elected mayor of a major American city. She was not able to deliver on campaign promises to reform city government and to fire 2,000 middle managers in the D.C. bureaucracy. Her relations with the Democratic Congress were strained and Kelly’s administration was perceived as ineffective, which helped pave the way for her 1994 defeat and the comeback of former mayor Marion Barry.

In 1976 and 1977, Kelly was general counsel to the Washington, D.C., Democratic Committee. Between 1985 and 1989, she was treasurer of the Democratic Party and has also sat as a national committeewoman on the Washington, D.C., Democratic State Committee.

Kelly belongs to the American Bar Association and the Washington, D.C., Women’s Bar Association. She is affiliated with the Legal Aid Society, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the United Negro College Fund. Kelly was a Falk Fellow at Howard University and has received numerous awards including the 1983 NAACP Presidential Award, the 1985 United Negro College Fund’s Distinguished Leadership Award, and the 1986 Distinguished Service Award presented by the Federation of Women’s Clubs.

ALAN L. KEYES (1950– ) Federal Government Official, Lecturer, Author

Alan Lee Keyes was born on August 7, 1950, in New York City. Keyes lived in the United States and Italy during his childhood. He began his political career by serving as president of his high school’s student council and as the first African American president of the American Legion Boys Nation. Keyes entered Cornell University after completing high school, but left the school after his life was threatened when he refused to prticipate in a demonstration. Keyes earned a B.A. from Harvard in 1972. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard in 1979.

Following his graduate work, Keyes took a position at the U.S. State Department in 1978 where he worked for 11 years. He recruited Jeane Kirkpatrick as a mentor by defending her from verbal attack while serving as U.S. vice-consul in India. At the State Department, Keyes served in the South African Affairs Division, and on the Policy Planning Council. Keyes was appointed Ambassador to UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 and remained as ambassador to the UN until 1985 when he was appointed assistant secretary of state for International Organizations. Keyes was one of the youngest ever to serve in these posts. He was also the African American of highest rank at the State Department in 1988, but he resigned over a dispute over allocation of U.S. funds to the United Nations. During his tenure at the State Department, Keyes adamantly supported President Reagan’s policy opposing economic sanctions against South Africa’s and system of apartheid.

After government service, Keyes, was formed Citizens Against Governmetn Waste (CAGW) until 1991 and founded CAGW’s National Taxpayers’ Action Day.

In 1988 and 1992, Keyes lost senatorial elections in Maryland. In between, he served as president of the Washington, D.C., organization Citizens Against Government Waste from 1989 to 1991. He also served as interim president in 1991 for Alabama A & M University. In 1992, following his second defeat, Keyes started his own talk radio show in Baltimore, America’s WakeUp Call: The Alan Keyes Show. Bolstered by the response to his radio show, Keyes announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency on March 26, 1995. In so doing, he became the first Republican African American in the twentieth century to run for president. He attracted little support, however, and did not win a primary. Despite the showing, Keyes made another unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination in 2000. In 2002, he briefly hosted a televised talk show, Alan Keyes Is Making Sense.

In 2004, Keyes was drafted by the Illinois Republican Party to run against Democrat Barack Obama for the U. S. after the Republican nominee withdrew due to a sex scandal. Some viewed carpetbagger because he mover to Illinois from Maryland just before the election.

A devout Catholic, Keyes is pro-life, raising the standard of the unalienable rights of the unborn. He is anti-homosexual and is said to have severed relations with his only daughter who describes herself as a lesbian. Keyes is the author of Masters of the Dream: The Strength and Betrayal of Black American (1995) and Our Character, Our Future: Reclaiming America’s Moral Destiny (1996).

Keyes’ political priorities are best summarized in this quote from his website:

I aim to strengthen the foundations of political liberty in America. I believe that it remains the destiny of the American people to uphold the right of all humankind to practice responsible self-government.

Dedication to this Providential pupose is the heart and soul of what it means to be an American. I will labor to: abolish the income tax; liberate entrepreneurial and charitable initiative; honor marriage and the family; respect the equal dignity of all human beings, born, and unborn; reclaim American sovereignty rom global bureaucracy; and show, by word and deed, the role of statesmanship in a free republic.

RON KIRK (1954– ) Attorney, Municipal Government Official

Ron Kirk was born on June 27, 1954, in Austin, Texas. He received a B.A. in political science and sociology from Austin College in 1976, during which time he served in 1974 as a legislative aide to the Texas Constitutional Convention. This experience prompted an interest in politics and drove him to complete his law degree in 1979 at the University of Texas School of Law.

After two years, Kirk was unsatisfied as a private practice attorney. He moved to Washington, D.C., to work for U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen from 1981 to 1983. He returned to Dallas in 1983 to work for the Dallas City Attorney’s Office and became the chief lobbyist of Dallas until 1989. He then worked for the firm of Johnson & Gibbs and volunteered for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, the Dallas Zoological Society, Dallas Helps, and the North Texas Food Bank among other organizations.

In 1994, then Texas Governor Ann Richards named Kirk secretary of state. The following year, Kirk ran a very successful campaign and was elected the mayor of Dallas in 1995 with 62 percent of the vote. In 1999, Kirk was re-elected mayor of Dallas with 74 percent of the vote. In 2001, Kirk announced that he was resigning as the city’s mayor in order to seek the nomination as the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Republican Phil Gramm. Kirk lost with 43 percent of the vote to his Republican opponents’ 55 percent.

After his defeat, Kirk returned to the law firm of Gardere Wynne Sewell in Dallas and remained active in Democratic politics. He is a partner with the Houston-based law firm of Vinson and Elkins, where his principal area of practice is public finance and public policy.

He was honored in 1992 with a Volunteer of the Year Award from Big Brothers/Big Sisters and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Austin College Alumni Association. He was named Citizen of the Year by Omega Psi Phi in 1994, the same year that he earned the C. B. Bunkley Community Service Award from the Turner Legal Association.

The Anti-Defamation League in 2004 presented Kirk with the coveted Jurisprudence Award. In 2006, Kirk’s alma mater, Austin College, conferred the Honorary Doctor of Human Letters. In 2007 Kirk was listed among the best lawyers in America in government relations law.

JOHN MERCER LANGSTON (1829–1897) Educational Administrator, Federal Legislator, Diplomat, Attorney, Lecturer

Congressman John Mercer Langston was born in Virginia in 1829. Upon the death of his father, Langston was emancipated and sent to Ohio, where he was given over to the care of a friend of his father. Langston spent his childhood there, attending private school in Cincinnati before graduating in 1849 from Oberlin College. Four years later, after getting his degree from the theological department of Oberlin, he studied law and was admitted to the Ohio bar.

Langston began his practice in Brownhelm, Ohio. He was chosen in 1855 to serve as clerk of this township by the Liberty Party. During the Civil War, he was a recruiting agent for African American servicemen, helping

to organize such regiments as the 54th and 55th Massachusetts, and the 5th Ohio. In 1867, Langston served as inspector-general of the Freedmen’s Bureau and as dean and vice president of Howard University from 1868 to 1875. In 1877 he was named minister resident to Haiti and charge d’affaires to Santo Domingo, remaining in diplomatic service until 1885.

Soon after returning to his law practice in the United States, Langston was named president of the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute. In 1888, he was elected to Congress from Virginia, but was not seated for two years until vote-counting irregularities had been investigated. He was defeated in his bid for a second term. In 1894 Langston wrote an autobiography From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capital. Langston died in 1897.

GEORGE THOMAS “MICKEY” LELAND (1944–1989) Civil Rights Activist, Federal Legislator, Educator

Leland was born on November 27, 1944, in Lubbock, Texas. He graduated from Texas Southern University in 1970 with a B.S. in pharmacy. Leland had been active in the civil rights movement during his student years, and he was elected to the Texas state legislature in 1973. In 1978 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to fill Barbara Jordan’s vacated seat. While a representative, Leland served on various committees including Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Post Office and Civil Service, and the committee on the District of Columbia.

In spite of serving on these committees, Leland was devoted to easing the hunger of starving persons in the United States and in other countries, especially African countries. He chaired the House Select Committee on World Hunger and visited starving peoples throughout Africa. In 1989, while traveling to a United Nations refugee camp in Ethiopia the plane on which Leland was traveling crashed near Gambela, Ethiopia, killing all on board.

JOHN ROBERT LEWIS (1940– ) Civil Rights Activist, Federal Legislator, Organization Executive

Committed to nonviolence and the advancement of African Americans, John Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama, on February 21, 1940 into a sharecropping family.. He received a B.S. in 1961 from the American Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Fisk University in 1967. While attending these two schools in Nashville, he became actively involved in the sit-in movement, the Freedom Rides, and other efforts to desegregate the South. He was arrested more than 40 times, attached by angry mobs, and severely beaten by police and other law enforcement personnel. He was a leader in the peaceful and orderly march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma toward Montgomery that came to be known as Bloody Sunday because of the vicious and savage attack by police on the more than 600 nonviolent protestors. Before entering politics, Lewis was associated with numerous social justice organizations including the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, where he served as President. He served as associate director of the Field Foundation, project director of the Southern Regional Council, and executive director of the Voter Education Project Inc., beginning in 1970.

Lewis first ran for elective office in 1977 to fill the vacancy in Georgia’s 5th Congressional District left when incumbent Andy Young was appointed U. S. ambassador to the United Nations. He lost that race to Wyche Fowler, but was subsequently elected Atlanta city councilman-at-large. When Fowler ran for the U. S. Senate, Lewisand voters sent him to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1987 representing Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District. While in the House, Lewis has served on the Public Works, Interior and Insular Affairs committees as well as the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He has also been a member of the Select Committee on Aging. Lewis’s pet project over the years has been the

encouragement of a museum bill that would allow for a museum of African American history at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Lewis denounced the rhetoric of his homophobic colleagues during a House debate that ultimately led to the adoption of legislation to discourage homosexual enlistment in the military. He considered the Republican Contract With America as the genesis of a wave of intolerance in American society in the early to mid-1990s. In 1995, Lewis headed a group of nearly 100 trade unionists that interrupted a speech on proposed Medicare changes by House Speaker Newt Gingrich during a conference sponsored by the Congressional Institute. Many of Lewis’s critics suggested that the demonstration did little but gain media attention, but Lewis countered that saving Medicare benefits for the elderly was his priority, and he was willing to seize any opportunity to stir up a public debate.

In the 1960s, Lewis was known for his involvement with the U.S. civil rights movement. A strict follower of nonviolent social protest, Lewis was an organizer and participant in numerous sit-ins, freedom rides, and protest marches throughout the South. He abstained from the 1995 Million Man March because he felt that he could not participate in an effort led by Louis Farrakhan. Lewis worked steadfastly in the mid-1990s to help produce a spirit of racial harmony and team spirit in Atlanta as the city prepared for the 1996 Olympics.

Lewis is a 1975 recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize and has been named to Ebony’s “One of the Nation’s Most Influential Blacks” list (1991–92) and Time magazine’s 1974 “One of America’s Rising Leaders” list. He belongs to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Social Change, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Friends of Vista, and the African-American Institute.

Lewis received a special honor in 2001, the year marking the 40th anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Rides in which he participated, as he was named the winner of a special John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for lifetime achievement. He has received numerous honorary degrees and other honors from prestigious colleges and universities throughout the United States. Lewis has been honored by many imminent national and international institutions. Lewis is the author with Michael D’Orso of a biography entitled Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement (1998).

KWEISI MFUME (1948– ) Federal Legislator, Educator, Civil Rights Activist, Organization Executive

Kweisi Mfume was born Frizzell Gerald Gray in Baltimore on October 24, 1948. Mfume once ran the streets and fathered five children out of wedlock. He turned to education obtained his GED and studied at the Community College of Baltimore where he was president of the Black Student Union and editor of the school newspaper. Later he attended Morgan State University graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in 1976. In 1984, he graduated with an M.L.A. in Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University with a concentration in International Studies.

In 1979, Mfume was elected to the Baltimore City Council by a margin of three votes. He worked hard to diversify city government, improve public safety, enhance minority business development, and divest city funds from South Africa. Active in Democratic politics, Mfume was a member of the Maryland Democratic State Central Committee and a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1980, 1984, and 1988.

Mfume was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1987. During his tenure he served on the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee; the Small Business Committee; the Education and Labor Committee; and the Narcotics Abuse & Control subcommittee. The House speaker chose Mfume to serve on the Ethics Committee and on the Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate. He also was vice-chair, and later chairperson, of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In addition, Mfume was a member of the Caucus for Women’s Issues, the Congressional Arts Caucus, and the Federal Government Service Task Force.

In February 1996, Mfume became president and CEO of the NAACP after the NAACP board of directors unanimously elected him to that post. His priorities were to restore the confidence of members and supporters in this seminal organization, to ensure greater fiscal accountability, and to secure private sector funding. Within weeks of Mfume’s appointment, Nissan Motor Corp USA donated $100,000 to the NAACP. Among Mfume’s accomplishments were eliminating the association’s debt; setting new standards and expectations for NAACP branches nationwide, and working to engage seasoned local volunteers and a new generation of younger civil rights activists in the mission of the NAACP. In 2000, Mfume led calls for more minority representation on network television. Under his leadership, the NAACP threatened a boycott against the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), but relented when the network agreed to systematically find more minorities to write, produce, and direct its television shows. Mfume served in the position of NAACP President until 2004 when he stepped down.

Mfume announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate held by Paul Sarbanes in March 2005. He ran a vigorous campaign but was defeated by U. S. Congressman Ben Cardin. There were speculations that Mfume would run for mayor of Baltimore, but expressed his belief that everyone should give the current Mayor, Sheila Dixon, the opportunity to lead.

Mfume penned his inspiring 1996 autobiography, No Free Ride: From the Mean Streets to the Mainstream. Mfume is a trustee of the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Morgan State University Board of Regents, where he previously taught political science and communications. He is also a member of the senior advisory committee of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the board of trustees for the Enterprise Foundation.

ARTHUR W. MITCHELL (1883–1968) Civil Rights Activist, Federal Legislator, Lecturer, Attorney, Organization Executive

Born to slave parents in 1883 in Chambers County, Alabama, Mitchell was educated at Tuskegee Institute and at Columbia and Harvard Universities. By 1929, he had founded Armstrong Agricultural School in West Butler, Alabama, and become a wealthy landowner and a lawyer with a thriving practice in Washington, D.C. When he left the nation’s capital that year, it was with the purpose of entering politics and becoming a representative from Illinois.

Mitchell won Democratic approval only after Harry Baker died suddenly. Aided by the overwhelming national sentiment for the Democratic Party during this period, he unseated Oscar DePriest by the slender margin of 3,000 votes. Mitchell’s most significant victory on behalf of civil rights came, not in the legislative chamber, but in the courts. In 1937, Mitchell brought suit against the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad after having been forced to leave his first-class accommodations en route to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and sit in a “Jim Crow” car. He argued his own case before the Supreme Court in 1941 and won a decision which declared Jim Crow practices illegal.

Mitchell proposed that states that discriminated against African Americans should receive fewer congressional seats and advocated strong sanctions against states that practiced lynching. Also, he worked for the elimination of poll taxes to make it easier for African Americans to vote. Following the end of World War II, Mitchell demonstrated that because African Americans fought bravely for the United States, they should be able to vote for their government representatives.

In 1942, Mitchell retired from Congress and continued to pursue his civil rights agenda as a private citizen. He also lectured occasionally and pursued farming on his estate near Petersburg, Virginia, where he died in 1968 at the age of 85.

MARC MORIAL (1958– ) Municipal Official

Morial was born in January 3,1958 to a prominent, African American family in New Orleans. Morial received his B.A. in 1980 from the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. three years later from the Georgetown University Law School.

Morial became a supporter of the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr. and worked for Jackson’s 1988 campaign for president. In 1991, he was elected to the state senate in Louisiana. Two years later he announced his candidacy for mayor of New Orleans. The election was marred by racial questions and a run-off was needed before Morial could be declared the winner.

Morial battled crime in his first term as mayor, introducing several innovative and controversial reforms within the police department. In 1998, he began his second term as mayor, grabbing national headlines as the city filed a lawsuit against gun manufacturers. From 1994 to 2002 when he was mayor of New Orleans, Morial maintained a 70 percent approval rating; reduced crime by 60 percent; reformed the beleaguered police department; oversaw massive improvements to the city’s infrastructure; built 15,000 new homes; and brought professional sports to New Orleans when NBA’s Hornets basketball team moved to New Orleans. In 2001, Morial served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a position his father had held 16 years before.

A lawyer by profession, Morial was selected as the 8th president and CEO of the nation’s largest direct services organization, the National Urban League which empowers African Americans and other ethnic communities through effective economic strategies.

CAROL MOSELEY-BRAUN (1947– ) Attorney, Federal Legislator

Born Carol Moseley in Chicago on August 16, 1947, Moseley-Braun received her B.A. from the University of Illinois in 1969 and her J.D. in 1972 from the University of Chicago Law School. While attending law school, Moseley-Braun worked as a legal intern and an associate attorney for a number of private law firms. After graduating from law school, Moseley-Braun was an assistant U.S. attorney for the northern district of Illinois from 1973 until 1977. In 1979, Moseley-Braun was elected an Illinois state representative from the 25th district, where she became known as an ardent supporter of civil rights legislation. After her bid for the lieutenant governorship was thwarted, Moseley-Braun was elected in 1986 as the Cook County recorder of deeds.

In 1992 Moseley-Braun became the nation’s first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate, making her an icon of the “Year of the Woman.” The following year, Moseley-Braun, along with Senator Dianne Feinstein, was selected for the formerly all-male Senate Judiciary Committee. Her first major legislative proposal—an amendment to an omnibus crime bill that would try young offenders implicated in serious crime from the age of 13 and up as adults—was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate. She served in the Senate from 1993-1999.

A recipient of many honors, Moseley-Braun won the 1981 and 1982 Best Legislation Award presented by the Independent Voters of Illinois. She has also won the 1981 National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women’s Clubs’ Community Recognition Award, the 1981 Chicago Alliance of Black School Educators’ Recognition of Excellence in Education Award, the 1982 Afro-American Voters Alliance Community Recognition Award, and a 1993 Essence Award for African American women of achievement. In 1993, she was chosen as the keynote speaker for the annual, prestigious National Urban League dinner. Moseley-Braun belongs to the League of Black Women; Operation PUSH; Federal, Illinois and Chicago Bar Association; and the Women’s Political Caucus.

In spite of her national prominence, her celebrity status, and the numerous honors, Moseley-Braun’s senate career was dogged by ethical questions which often overshadowed her legislative record. There were allegations and a Federal Elections Commission investigation of $249,000 in unaccounted campaign expenditures. The investigations which lasted nearly five years were found to be without merit. There were no fines or sanctions levied against Moseley-Braun or her campaign. In spite of the findings of no criminal wrongdoing on her part, Moseley-Braun was defeated in 1998.

In 1999, Bill Clinton named her a special consultant to the Department of Education and later nominated Moseley-Braun as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. Following her tenure as ambassador, in the fall of 2001 she took a position as visiting professor of politics at Morris Brown College in Atlanta. In February 2003, Moseley-Braun announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. Four days before the Iowa Caucus, on January 15, 2006, Moseley Braun withdrew from the race and endorsed Howard Dean.

Currently, Moseley Braun practices law as a private attorney in Chicago.

C. RAY NAGIN (1956– ) Municipal Government Official

Clarence Ray Nagin was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1956 and lived there until he went to college at Tuskegee University to study accounting. He graduated in 1978 with a B.S. Later in 1994 he completed his MBA at Tulane University.

Much of Nagin’s early career was in the private sector. Prior to his entry into politics, Nagin was the vice president and general manager for Cox Communications in Southeast Louisiana. In this position Nagin produced remarkable results for the cable company by transforming one of Cox’s poorest performing markets to one of its most profitable assets. Basically, Nagin utilized the best technology available, hired and developed an efficient staff, and emphasized customer service to turn things around.

With no political experience, Nagin entered the 2002 New Orleans mayoral race as a long shot. His platform was one of reforming the City’s image, fighting political corruption, and restoring confidence in New Orleans as a well-run city. In the crowded primary Nagin received 29 percent of the vote which placed him in a runoff with Police Chief Richard Pennington. His victory in the runoff with 59 percent of the vote was impressive given that he received 85 percent of the white vote and 40 percent of the African American vote.

During his first term, Nagin launched a far-reaching anti-corruption campaign targeting the Taxicab Bureau and Utilities Department. Among the results of this effort were the arrest 84 city workers and a reorganization of the Utilities Department. When investigations revealed rampant corruption among the city vehicle inspection certification workers, Nagin terminated all of the workers in that department. Nagin’s unorthodox methods and commitment to changing the culture of government for the better were met with surprise and disbelief. Nagin’s relationship with the City Council was rocky at best and they did not support much of the legislation he favored.

The real test for his administration came in August 28, 2005 when Katrina became a category 4 hurricane. Nagin declared a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans with the Superdome as a shelter of last resort for those who could not leave. On August 29, 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit landfall, 80 percent of the city was flooded. There was much criticism of the slow handling of relief and evacuation efforts by federal, state, and local government officials. Recovery efforts in New Orleans are still ongoing at what many consider a snail’s pace. Displaced citizens have still not been able to return to the City.

Because of post Katrina devastation and the fact that the majority of New Orleans’ citizens were still living elsewhere, the mayoral elections were postponed by the State until April. There were 23 challengers for the mayor’s post and the majority of them were white. Among the most prominent was Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu of the powerful political family. Nagin received much criticism during this period because of several ill-considered statements about New Orleans as a chocolate city and Katrina as a result of God’s anger with America and African Americans in particular. Nagin was the top vote getter in the election of April 22, 2006 with 38 percent of the vote to Landrieu’s 29 percent. In the May 20, 2006 runoff, Nagin beat Landrieu with 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent. This time, Nagin received 80 percent of the African American vote and 20 percent of the white vote.

Nagin’s second term is not without controversy. His 100 day plan to rebuild New Orleans and improve the quality has produced few results. He is criticized for rarely being seen in New Orleans while traveling extensively on a national speaking tour. He continues to make public statements which are considered controversial. In early 2007, Nagin hired Edward Blakely, an internationally renowned city planner to lead the New Orleans’ rebuilding effort.

BARACK OBAMA (1961– ) Federal Government Official

Barack Obama was born August 4, 1961 in Ohua Hawaii. He is the son of a Kenyan economist and white American mother. His parents divorced when he was only two years of age. His father went on to Harvard to pursue doctoral studies. His mother married an Indonesian and the family moved to Jakarta in 1967. Obama returned to Hawaii and was raised by his maternal grandparents in Honolulu. After graduation from high school in 1979, he studied at Occidental College and then transferred to Columbia University where he majored in political science. He graduated in 1983 with a bach-elor’s degree and worked briefly in corporate America.

In 1985, Obama relocated to Chicago to do community organizing and to direct assist local churches in organizing job training programs for low income people. In 1988 Obama enrolled in Harvard Law School where he had a stellar career. He was elected the first African American president in the 104 year history of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, directed a voter registration drive and became an associate with the law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland specializing in civil rights. Obama also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago.

In 1996 Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate and became chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee when the Democrats regained control. In 2000 Obama ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic against four-term incumbent Congressman Bobby Rush. Obama was defeated 2 to 1.

The year 2004 was pivotal for Obama. He ran for the U. S. Senate in an open seat vacated by Peter Fitzgerald and he was catapulted into national celebrity status by his powerful keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. For a brief period leading up to the general election, Obama was unopposed because the Republican primary winner withdrew when damaging allegations of sexual misconduct were revealed in divorce proceedings involving child custody. In August 2004, less than three months before the election, the Republican Party recruited Alan Keyes, a resident of Maryland, to become the replacement nominee. Obama won the general election with 70 percent of the popular vote to Keye’s 27 percent.

On January 4, 2005, Obama was sworn as the junior Senator from Illinois in the 109th Congress. Obama is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

After much speculation, Obama announced his candidacy for the 2008 U. S. presidential election.

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (1938– ) Attorney, Federal Legislator, Civil Rights Activist, Organization Executive, Educator

Eleanor Norton was born Eleanor Holmes on April 8, 1938, in Washington, D.C. She attended Antioch College in Ohio but transferred to Yale University and received an M.A. in American Studies in 1963 and a J.D. in 1964 from Yale’s law school.

After graduating from law school, Norton clerked for a federal judge in Philadelphia before joining the American Civil Liberties Union in 1965 as a litigator specializing in free speech issues. She stayed with the ACLU until 1970, reaching the position of assistant legal director and successfully arguing a First Amendment case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1970, she became chairwoman of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, a post she held until 1977, when President Jimmy Carter tapped he to become the first woman to chair the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1981, she was a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. In 1982, she accepted the position of professor of law at Georgetown University. As a tenured professor, Norton still teaches at Georgetown. Norton had previously taught African American history at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and law at New York City University Law School.

In 1990 Norton was elected the non-voting congressional delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for the District of Columbia. Though elected by the citizens of the District of Columbia, Holmes Norton does not have all the rights and privileges of a full Representative. She cannot vote on the House floor, though she may vote in committee. Norton came to Congress as a national figure who had been active in civil rights and feminist issues. She had also previously served on the boards of three Fortune 500 companies.

In 1993, the same year she sponsored legislation that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state. She was allowed to cast a vote in the full house, thus becoming the first resident of the district to vote on the floor of Congress. In 1995, however, the House voted to strip Washington, D.C., of its floor-voting right. Norton protested that she was elected by federal tax-paying citizens who are entitled to full representation. A bipartisan alliance was formed among Norton, Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Democratic Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry in an effort to save home rule for the district. She continues her important work for full congressional voting representation and full democracy for the citizens of the District of Columbia.

Norton has been named to the Ladies Home Journal 1988 “One Hundred Most Important Women” list and the 1989 “One Hundred Most Powerful Women in Washington” list by Washington magazine. She is also a recipient of the 1985 Distinguished Public Service Award presented by the Center for National Policy. She received more thn 50 honorary degrees.

HAZEL O’LEARY (1937– ) Attorney, Federal Government Official, Financial Planner, University President

Hazel O’Leary was born Hazel Reid on May 17, 1937, in Newport News, Virginia. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1959 from Fisk University with a B.A. She received her J.D. in 1966 from Rutgers University School of Law. O’Leary was a utilities regulator under Presidents Ford and Carter, an executive vice president of the Northern States Power Co., and a Washington lobbyist. A proponent of energy conservation and alternative energy sources, she became secretary of energy in President Bill Clinton’s administration in 1993 and served until 1997.

In addition to formulating energy policy, O’Leary worked to dismantle the nation’s nuclear weaponry complex and to help energy producers finance nuclear-waste storage programs. Reorganizing the Department of Energy at the end of the Cold War was one of the first accountabilities assigned to O’Leary. O’Leary campaigned to unveil the expansive network of secret atomic laboratories and weapons plants harbored in the nation. Results of Cold War nuclear tests, radiation releases, and experiments on civilians were also revealed. O’Leary also encouraged domestic resource development.

In the mid-1990s, O’Leary came under heavy scrutiny. First she was criticized for having spent thousands of government dollars on hiring a consultant firm to rank a number of reporters to find out which had given her the most favorable coverage. Then it was disclosed that she had spent much more than other cabinet members on overseas travel. Vice president Al Gore came to O’Leary’s defense by noting that her trips had helped create new job opportunities in the United States. For example, O’Leary led a delegation of nearly 100 aides, energy experts, and business leaders to South Africa to uncover possibilities in the newly democratic country.

O’Leary is a certified financial planner, a member of the New Jersey and Washington bars, and has been vice president and general counsel of O’Leary Associates in Washington, D.C. In 1993, the Congressional Black Caucus honored O’Leary for her achievements. After completing her term as secretary of energy, O’Leary resigned and returned to the private sector, where she became president and CEO of Blaylock & Partners. In 2004, O’Leary was named president of her alma mater, Fisk University.

DEVAL PATRICK (1956– ) Governor

Deval Patrick was born on the Southside of Chicago on July 31, 1956. His father was a musician who left the family when Patrick and his sister were quite young. Patrick was a bright student and one of his teachers encouraged him to apply to A Better Chance, a nonprofit program that identifies, recruits, and develops leaders among academically talented students of color. He was accepted and received a scholarship to Milton Academy, graduating in 1974.

He matriculated at Harvard University and graduated with honors in 1978. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he spent a year working on a United Nations youth training program in the Darfur region of Sudan. Returning to Cambridge in 1979, he entered Harvard Law School that fall. While he was in Law School Patrick was elected President of the Legal Aid Bureau defending poor families.

After Law School, Patrick served as a law clerk to a federal appellate judge before joining the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. In 1986, Patrick joined the Boston law firm of Hill & Barlow where he became a partner at the age of 34.

President Clinton nominated Patrick as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in 1994 and upon confirmation became the nation’s top civil rights lawyer. At the Justice Department, Patrick and his staff worked on a wide range of issues including racial profiling, police misconduct, employment discrimination, enforcement of fair lending laws, and prosecution of hate crimes including church burnings and abortion clinic violence.

In 1997, Patrick returned to private practice and joined the Boston firm of Day, Berry & Howard. Later in 1997, he was appointed by a federal district court to serve as the first chairperson of Texaco’s Equality and Fairness Task Force following lawsuits from employees alleging discrimination. The Task Force reformed Texaco’s corporate employment culture and developed a more equitable workplace.

In 2001, Patrick was hired as Executive Vice President and General Counsel at The Coca-Cola Company following turmoil within the country after minority workers filed discrimination suits. The next year, Patrick was elected as Corporate Secretary and served as member of the company’s Executive Committee.

When Patrick announced his candidacy in 2005 for Massachusetts governor, he was considered a long shot. During the course of the campaign, his position changed and Patrick won the primary with 49 percent of the vote and carrying every county. Winning the general election handily in November 2006, Patrick the Common-wealth’s first African American Governor and only the second African American ever elected as Governor in the history of the nation.

CLARENCE MCCLANE PENDLETON JR. (1930–1988) Federal Government Official, Organization Executive

Clarence Pendleton Jr. was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 10, 1930. Raised in Washington, D.C., he attended Dunbar High School and received a B.S. in 1954 from Howard University. Pendleton served three years in the U.S. Army and was assigned to a medical unit. After his discharge in 1957, Pendleton returned to Howard University where he received a master’s degree in 1961 and coached swimming, football, rowing, and baseball.

In 1968, Pendleton became the recreation coordinator of the Baltimore Model Cities Program and became the director of the Urban Affairs Department of the National Recreation and Parks Association in 1970. Pendleton soon began attracting national attention and in 1972 he headed San Diego’s Model Cities Program. In 1975 he became the director of the San Diego Urban League.

By 1980, a change took place in Pendleton’s political philosophy. He began to feel that African Americans’ reliance on government programs was trapping them in a cycle of dependence and welfare handouts. Pendleton believed that it was in the best interest of African Americans to build strong ties with a strong, expanding private sector and eschew the more traditional ties with liberal bureaucrats and liberal philosophies.

To this end he supported the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency and was appointed chairman of the Civil Rights Commission by President Reagan in 1981. Pendleton’s chairmanship was controversial mostly because of his opposition to affirmative action and forced busing as a means of desegregating schools. Pendleton retained a more liberal philosophy on other matters,

however, by supporting the Equal Rights Amendment and the Voting Rights Act. Pendleton died unexpectedly of a heart attack on June 5, 1988, in San Diego.

P. B. S. PINCHBACK (1837–1921) Attorney, Federal Legislator, State Government Official, Municipal Government Official

Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback was born in Macon, Georgia, on May 10, 1837. Although his mother had been a slave, at Pinchback’s birth she had been emancipated by Pinchback’s father. Moving to Ohio with his mother, Pinchback attended high school in Cincinnati in 1847, and he began working on riverboats as a cabin boy and then as a steward in 1848.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Pinchback went to Louisiana and in 1862 enlisted in the Union Army. He soon began recruiting soldiers for an African American unit known as the Louisiana Native Guards or the Corps d’Afrique. Racial problems soon arose with the military hierarchy and Pinchback resigned his commission in protest. After the war Pinchback became active in Louisiana politics. He organized a Republican Club in 1867, and was a delegate to a state constitutional convention in 1868. In that year he was also elected to the state senate and became president pro-tempore of that body in 1871. He became lieutenant governor of Louisiana through the line of political succession. In late 1872 and early 1873, Pinchback was governor of Louisiana while the elected official underwent impeachment proceedings. In 1872 and 1873 Pinchback was elected to the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. He was refused seating both times when the elections were contested and his Democratic opponent was named to Congress.

In 1877, Pinchback switched his allegiance to the Democratic Party and in 1882 was appointed surveyor of customs for New Orleans. In 1887, he began attending law school at Straight University in New Orleans and was later admitted to the bar. In 1890, Pinchback moved to Washington, D.C., where he died December 21, 1921.

ADAM CLAYTON POWELL JR. (1908–1972) Federal Legislator

Born on November 29, 1908, in New Haven, Connecticut, Powell was raised in New York City and graduated in 1930 from Colgate University. In 1931, Powell graduated from Columbia University with a master’s degree in religious education. Powell launched his career as a crusader for reform during the Depression. He forced several large corporations to drop their unofficial bans on employing African Americans and directed a kitchen and relief operation that fed, clothed, and provided fuel for thousands of Harlem’s needy and destitute. He was instrumental in persuading officials of Harlem Hospital to integrate their medical and nursing staffs, helped many African Americans find employment along 125th Street, and campaigned against the city’s bus lines, which were discriminating against Negro drivers and mechanics.

When Powell Sr. retired from Abyssinian Baptist Church in 1936, his son, who had already served as manager and assistant pastor there, was named his successor. In 1939, Powell served as chairman of the Coordinating Committee on Employment, which organized a picket line before the executive offices of the World’s Fair in the Empire State Building and eventually succeeded in getting employment at the fair for hundreds of African Americans.

Powell won a seat on the New York City Council in 1941 with the third highest number of votes ever cast for a candidate in municipal elections. In 1942, he turned to journalism for a second time and published and edited the weekly The People’s Voice, which he called “the largest Negro tabloid in the world.” He became a member of the New York State Office of Price Administration in 1942 and served until 1944.

In 1944, Powell was elected to Congress and represented a constituency of 300,000, 89 percent of whom were African American. Identified at once as “Mr. Civil Rights,” he encountered a host of discriminatory procedures upon his arrival in the nation’s capital. He could not rent a room or attend a movie in downtown Washington. Within Congress itself, he was not allowed to use such communal facilities as dining rooms, steam baths, showers, and barber shops. Powell met these rebuffs head on by making use of all such facilities and insisting that his entire staff follow his lead.

As a first-year legislator, Powell engaged in fiery debates with segregationists, fought for the abolition of discriminatory practices at U.S. military installations, and sought to deny federal funds to any project where discrimination existed. The latter effect was called the Powell amendment and eventually became part of the Flanagan School Lunch Bill, making Powell the first African American congressman since Reconstruction to have legislation passed by both houses.

Powell also sponsored legislation advocating federal aid to education, a minimum-wage scale, and greater benefits for the chronically unemployed. He also drew attention to certain discriminatory practices on Capitol Hill and worked toward their elimination. It was Powell who first demanded that an African American journalist be allowed to sit in the Senate and House press galleries, introduced the first anti-Jim Crow transportation legislation, and the first bill to prohibit segregation in the armed forces. At one point in his career, the Congressional Record reported that the House Committee on Education and Labor had processed more important legislation than any other major committee. In 1960, Powell, as senior member of this committee, became its chairman. He had a hand in the development and passage of such significant legislation as the Minimum Wage Bill of 1961, the Manpower Development and Training Act, the Anti-Poverty Bill, the Juvenile Delinquency Act, the Vocational Educational Act, and the National Defense Education Act. The Powell committee helped pass 48 laws involving a total outlay of $14 billion. Powell, however, was accused of putting an excessive number of friends on the congressional payroll, of a high rate of absenteeism from congressional votes, and of living a permissive lifestyle.

In 1967, the controversies and irregularities surrounding him led to censure in the House and a vote to exclude him from his seat in the 90th Congress. The House based its decision on the allegation that he had misused public funds and was in contempt of the New York courts due to a lengthy and involved defamation case which had resulted in a trial for civil and criminal contempt. Despite his exclusion, Powell was readmitted to the 91st Congress in 1968. In mid-1969, the Supreme Court ruled that the House had violated the Constitution by excluding him from membership.

Rather than return to Congress, Powell spent most of his time on the West Indian island of Bimini, where process servers could not reach him. But photographers did and the ensuing photos of Powell vacationing on his boat while crucial votes were taken in Congress affected Powell in his home district. In 1970, he lost the Democratic congressional primary to Charles Rangel by 150 votes. Powell retired from public office and worked as a minister at the Abyssinian Baptist Church. On April 4, 1972, Powell died in Miami.


JOSEPH H. RAINEY (1832–1887) Civil Rights Activist, Federal Legislator, Federal Government Official

Joseph H. Rainey, the first African American member of the House of Representatives, was born on June 21, 1832, in Georgetown, South Carolina. Rainey’s father purchased his family’s freedom and moved them to Charleston. During the Civil War, Rainey was drafted to work on Confederate fortifications in Charleston harbor and serve passengers on a Confederate ship. However, Rainey escaped with his wife to the West Indies and remained there until the end of the Civil War in 1865.

Rainey and his wife returned to South Carolina in 1866. In 1868, Rainey was elected as a delegate to the state constitutional convention and was elected to the state senate in 1870. A year later, he was elected to the House of Representatives. As a member of Congress, Rainey presented some ten petitions for a civil rights bill that would have guaranteed African Americans full constitutional rights and equal access to public accommodations. On one occasion, Rainey dramatized the latter issue by refusing to leave the dining room of a hotel in Suffolk, Virginia. He was forcibly ejected from the premises. Rainey was a staunch supporter of legislation that prevented racial discrimination in schools, on public transportation, and in the composition of juries. He supported legislation that protected the civil rights of the Chinese minority in California and advocated the use of federal troops to protect African American voters from intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan. Rainey was reelected in 1872 and, during a debate on Indian rights in 1874, became the first African American representative to preside over a session of Congress. Rainey gained reelection to Congress in 1874 and 1876.

Rainey retired from Congress in 1879. He was appointed as a special agent for the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. He served there until 1881, after which he worked for a banking and brokerage firm. After the firm failed, Rainey took a job at a wood and coal factory. In 1886, he returned to Georgetown, where he died on August 2, 1887.

CHARLES RANGEL (1930– ) Federal Legislator

Harlem-born Charles Rangel entered the national spotlight in 1970, when he defeated Adam Clayton Powell Jr. for the Democratic nomination in New York’s 18th Congressional District.

Born June 11, 1930, Rangel attended Harlem elementary and secondary schools before volunteering to serve in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. While stationed in Korea with the 2nd Infantry, he saw heavy combat and received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, as well as U.S. and Korean presidential citations. Discharged honorably as a staff sergeant, Rangel returned to finish high school and to study at New York University’s School of Commerce, from which he graduated in 1957. In 1960, Rangel received his J.D. while on scholarship at St. John’s University.

After being admitted to the bar, Rangel was appointed in 1961 as assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. For the next five years, he worked as legal counsel to the New York City Housing and Redevelopment Board, as legal assistant to Judge James L. Watson, as associate counsel to the speaker of the New York State Assembly, and as general counsel to the National Advisory Commission on Selective Service. In 1966, Rangel was chosen to represent the 72nd District, Central Harlem, in the State Assembly. He has served as a member of, and secretary to, the New York State Commission on Revision of the Penal Law and Criminal Code.

In 1971, Rangel easily defeated Livingston Wingate in the Democratic primary and went on to an overwhelming victory in November. In 1974, he was elected chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus. In his first term, he was appointed to the Select Committee on Crime and was influential in passing the 1971 amendment to the drug laws that authorized the president to cut off all military and economic aid to any country that refused to cooperate with the United States in stopping the international traffic in drugs. In 1976, Rangel, a leading congressional expert on the subject, was appointed to the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control.

Rangel served as chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus from 1974 to 1975 and was a member of the Judiciary Committee when it voted to impeach U.S. President Richard M. Nixon. In 1975, he moved to the Ways and Means Committee, becoming the first African American to serve on the committee. Two years later, his colleagues in the New York Congressional delegation voted him the majority whip for New York State. Rangel,

who has served as deputy whip for the House Democratic Leadership, was a speaker at the 1995 Million Man March. With the new Democratic majority, Rangel became chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He is also chair of the Board of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Rangel is the fourth-longest serving Democratic member of the U. S. House of Representative.

Rangel has consistently called for reinstatement of the draft in large part due to the disproportionate representation of poor and minority group members in the enlisted ranks of the military. He considered a liberal, but is also known as a pragmatic deal-maker.

In his capacity as chairman of the Apollo Foundation, Rangel came under fire in the late 1990s for the foundation’s management of the historic theatre. In particular, allegations focused on dealings between Rangel and his long-time friend, businessman Percy Sutton. In 1999, both men were cleared of any wrongdoing by New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer. Following the attorney general’s announcement, Rangel left the board in September 1999.

KENNETH REEVES (1951– ) Municipal Government Official, Attorney

Elected mayor of the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1992, Kenneth Reeves was the first openly gay mayor in the state. Reeves was popular enough to be elected to a second term in 1994, running on the promise to break down the barriers between city government and local political groups.

Born to Jamaican parents, Reeves grew up in a middle-class Detroit neighborhood. After high school, he attended Harvard College. While there, he was active in community service, working at a housing development in Dorchester, Massachusetts. After graduation, Reeves traveled to the African nation of Benin, studying there for one year before returning to the United States. In 1976, he graduated from the University of Michigan Law School. Seeking a position in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was hired by the National Consumer Law Center. He ran for public office in a grass-roots effort but lost. He opted to run for city council a second time and was elected in 1989. During that time, he also founded the W. E. B. Du Bois Academy, a mentor program pairing established African American professional men with young African American males for intense tutoring sessions.

A former Vice Mayor and two-term Mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Reeves is serving his eighth term as a City Council member. Reeves was the first African American to be elected Mayor in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was also the first openly gay African American mayor in the country. He was Chairman of the Cambridge School Committee for four years. Reeves’ political career is characterized by bringing together diverse groups of people to work collaboratively.

HIRAM RHODES REVELS (1822–1901) Federal Legislator

Hiram Rhodes Revels, a native of North Carolina, was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate. Revels was elected from his adopted state of Mississippi, and served for approximately one year, from February of 1870 to March of 1871.

Born in 1827, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Revels was educated in Indiana and attended Knox College in Illinois. Ordained a minister in the African Methodist Church, he worked among African American settlers in Kansas, Maryland, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri before settling in 1860 in Baltimore. There he served as a church pastor and school principal.

During the Civil War, Revels helped organize a pair of Negro regiments in Maryland, and went to St. Louis in 1863 to establish a freedmen school and to carry on his work as a recruiter. For a year he served as chaplain of a Mississippi regiment before becoming provost marshal of Vicksburg. Revels settled in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1866 and was appointed alderman by the Union military governor of the state. In 1870, Revels was elected to the U.S. Senate to replace Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy. Revels’s appointment caused a storm of protest from white Southerners. However, Revels was allowed to take his seat in the Senate.

As a U.S. Senator, Revels quickly won the respect of many of his constituents for his alert grasp of state issues and for his courageous support of legislation which would have restored voting and office-holding privileges to disenfranchised Southerners. He believed that the best way for African Americans to gain their rightful place in American society was not through violent means, but by obtaining an education and leading an exemplary life of courage and moral fortitude. He spoke out against the segregation of Washington, D.C.’s public school system and defended the rights of African Americans who were denied work at the Washington Navy Yard because of their race.

In 1871, Revels left the Senate. He was named president of Alcorn University near Lorman, Mississippi. He left Alcorn in 1873 to serve as Mississippi’s secretary of state on an interim basis. In 1876, he returned to Alcorn. That year, he became editor of the South-Western Christian Advocate, a religious journal. In 1882, he retired from Alcorn University. Revels lived in Holly Springs, Mississippi, during his later years and taught theology at Shaw University. He died on January 16, 1901.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE (1954– ) Government Official, Educator

Condoleezza Rice was born on November 14, 1954, in Birmingham, Alabama. She completed her bachelor’s degree in political science in 1974, graduating cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Denver. In 1974, she received her master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, and earned a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981.

Rice joined the faculty of Stanford University in 1981 as a professor of political science. At Stanford, Rice’s research and teaching interests included the politics of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In 1984, Rice was awarded the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the following year, she was a fellow at the prestigious Hoover Institute. In 1993 she received the School of Humanities and Sciences Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Rice served as an advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on strategic nuclear policy in 1987. In 1989, she was named director of Soviet and East European affairs on the National Security Council, a position in which she advised President George H.W. Bush during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Following her tenure with the first Bush administration, Rice returned to Stanford. She served as the university’s provost from 1993 to 1999, earning accolades for her handling of the school’s finances, and her implementation of new academic programs. Rice left Stanford in 2000 to serve as a foreign policy advisor during the George W. Bush presidential campaign. When Bush was elected, he appointed Rice as his National Security Advisor. She became the first woman and the first African American to hold the position. During the second term of President Bush, Rice was named Secretary of State in 2005.

Rice’s publication credits include: Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army: 1948-1983 (1984), The Gorbachev Era with Alexander Dallin, and Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft with Phillip Zelikow (1995). She has also published numerous articles in journals and magazines such as Journal of International Affairs, Studies in Comparative Communism, Time, World Politics, and Current History. In addition to her posts in academia and government, Rice has served on the boards of many companies and institutions including, the Chevron Corporation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the University of Notre Dame, the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors, Hewlett Packard, and San Francisco’s public broadcasting network, KQED.

NORM RICE (1943– ) Municipal Government Official

Rice was born on May 4, 1943, in Denver, Colorado, and attended the University of Colorado. He was disappointed by the segregated housing and labor practices, and dropped out in his second year. Moving to Seattle in 1969, Rice went back to college in the Economic Opportunity Program at the University of Washington, earning a B.A. in communications and an M.P.A. in 1974.

At the age of 35, he ran for Seattle’s City Council in 1978 and beat the incumbent. In 1983, Rice was named president of the council, and was encouraged to run for mayor. He was defeated in 1985 but regrouped and ran again in 1989. The 49th mayor of Seattle, Washington he served two terms from 1990 to 1997 and was the first and only African American to become mayor of Seattle. He began his first term by convening an education summit to include all those interested in discussing ways to improve Seattle’s public schools. An outgrowth of that summit was the Families and Education Levy, which raised $69 million for student health services, drug and alcohol counseling, and after-school activities. During his second term he led the rejuvenation of downtown Seattle and served as the President of the U. S. conference of Mayors.

Because African Americans comprised only 10 percent of Seattle’s population, Rice forged a broad-based coalition to win an overwhelming victory in 1993 for reelection. Along with his many duties as mayor of Seattle, Rice also served as president of the Conference of Mayors from 1995 to 1996.

In March of 1996, Rice announced his candidacy for governor of Washington, but he lost the election. Rice did not seek a third term as mayor in 1997. After 19 years in public service, Rice was president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle from 1998 to 2004. Currently, he is vice president of Capital Access LLC, an investment banking firm specializing in municipal, energy, and philanthropic. He also has an appointment as visiting professor at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington.

EDITH SAMPSON (1901–1979) Attorney, Diplomat, Judge, Lecturer

Sampson was born on October 13, 1901, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first African American woman to be named an official representative to the United Nations, Sampson served in the United Nations from 1950 until 1953, first as an appointee of President Harry S. Truman and later during a portion of the Eisenhower administration. A native of Pittsburgh, Sampson acquired an LL.B. from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago in 1925 and two years later became the first woman to receive an LL.M. from Loyola University.

A member of the Illinois bar since 1927, she argued in front of the Supreme Court in 1934. During the 1930s, she maintained her own private practice, specializing particularly in domestic relations and in criminal law. After her U.N. appointment, Sampson traveled around the world as a lecturer. She was elected associate judge of the Municipal Court of Chicago in 1962, becoming the first African American woman ever to sit as a circuit court judge. Sampson presided over divorce courts, traffic courts, and landlord-tenant relations courts. In 1978, she retired from Cook County Circuit Court. Sampson died on October 7, 1979, at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.

KURT L. SCHMOKE (1949– ) Attorney, Municipal Government Official, Federal Government Official, Law School Dean

Born on December 1, 1949, Kurt L. Schmoke was inaugurated as the first elected African American mayor of Baltimore on December 8, 1987. Schmoke graduated with honors from Baltimore City College High School. In 1967, he won the award as the top scholar-athlete in the city. Schmoke received his bachelor of arts degree from Yale University in 1971 and studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar. He earned his law degree from Harvard University Law School in 1976.

After graduating from Harvard, Schmoke began his law practice with the prestigious Baltimore firm of Piper & Marbury, and shortly thereafter was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as a member of the White House Domestic Policy staff. Schmoke returned to Baltimore as an assistant U.S. attorney, where he prosecuted narcotics and white-collar crime cases. He then returned to private practice and was involved in various civic activities.

In November of 1982, Schmoke was elected state’s attorney for Baltimore, the chief prosecuting office of the city. He created a full-time Narcotics Unit to prosecute all drug cases and underscored the criminal nature of domestic violence and child abuse by setting up separate units to handle those cases. Also, Schmoke hired a community liaison officer to make sure that his office was being responsive to neighborhood questions and concerns.

In his inaugural address as mayor, Schmoke set the tone and future direction for his administration when he said that he wanted Baltimore to reduce its large high school dropout and teenage pregnancy rates and combat illiteracy. He oversaw the passage of the largest ever increase in the city’s education budget, and, in partnership with Baltimore businesses and community-based organizations, Schmoke developed the Commonwealth Agreement and the College Bound Foundation with the goal of guaranteeing opportunities for jobs or college-entrance to qualifying high school graduates. Since taking office, Schmoke has also begun major initiatives in housing, economic development, and public health. Schmoke proposed educational programs to prepare Baltimore’s citizens for high-tech jobs and he has also pushed growth at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The mayor came under fire in the early 1990s because of Baltimore’s persistent crime problems and his failed attempt to privatize nine Baltimore public schools. In 1992, President George Bush awarded Schmoke the national Literacy Award for his efforts to promote adult literacy. In 1994, President Clinton praised Schmoke’s efforts to improve public housing and enhance community economic development. The Clinton Administration in 1994 designated Baltimore one of six cities with an Empowerment Zone.

Despite being considered the leading contender for the role of Maryland governor, Schmoke decided to run for a third term as Baltimore mayor. Interested in drug reform, Schmoke ran on the platform of decriminalizing drugs to stop related crime. An unexpectedly high turn-out of close to 52 percent of registered Democrats gave Schmoke a racially polarized election win in 1995. In December 1998, Schmoke announced he would not seek a fourth term as mayor. Following his final term in office, Schmoke joined the international law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering as a partner. On January 1, 2003, Schmoke was appointed Dean of the Howard University School of Law.

Throughout his career, Schmoke has been active in the civic and cultural life of the Baltimore community by serving as a member of numerous boards of trustees. In recognition of his commitment to excellence in education and his service to the community, Schmoke has received honorary degrees from several colleges and universities.

ROBERT SMALLS (1839–1916) Federal Legislator

Robert Smalls served a longer period in Congress than any other African American Reconstruction congressman. Born a slave in Beaufort, South Carolina, in 1839, Smalls received a limited education before moving to Charleston with the family of his owner. While in Charleston, Smalls worked at a number of odd jobs and eventually became adept at piloting boats along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Smalls was forced to become a crew member on the Confederate ship Planter. On the morning of May 13, 1862, Smalls smuggled his wife and three children on board, assumed command of the vessel, and sailed it into the hands of the Union squadron blockading Charleston harbor. His daring exploit led President Abraham Lincoln to name him a pilot in the Union Navy. He was also awarded a large sum of money for what constituted the delivery of war booty. In December of 1863, during the siege of Charleston, Smalls again took command of the Planter and was promoted to captain, the only African American to hold such a rank during the Civil War.

After the war, Smalls was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives and served from 1868 to 1870. In 1870, Smalls became a member of South Carolina’s State Senate and served until 1874. Smalls campaigned for a U.S. Congressional seat in 1874 against an independent candidate and won the election. He took his seat in Congress on March 4, 1875. During his tenure in Congress, Smalls supported a wide variety of progressive legislation including a bill to provide equal accommodations

for African Americans in interstate travel and an amendment designed to safeguard the rights of children born to inter-racial couples. He also sought to protect the rights of African Americans serving in the armed forces.

Smalls won reelection in 1876, an election that was bitterly contested by Smalls’s Democratic challenger, George Tillman. Tillman tried unsuccessfully to have Smalls’s election to Congress overturned. However, Till-man’s supporters were undeterred. In 1877, Smalls was accused of taking a $5,000 bribe while serving as a senator. Although Smalls was exonerated by Governor William D. Simpson, his popularity plummeted. Smalls lost his reelection bid in 1878. In 1880, Smalls ran again for Congress. He lost the election, but maintained that the results were invalid due to vote-counting irregularities. Smalls’s charges were substantiated and he was allowed to take his seat in Congress in July 1882. Two months later, another congressional election was held and Smalls lost his seat to fellow Republican Edward W. M. Mackey. However, Mackey died in January of 1884 and Smalls was allowed to serve the remainder of Mackey’s term. In 1886, Smalls lost an election to Democratic challenger William Elliott. Though Smalls was no longer a congressman, he remained involved in political activities. From 1889 to 1913, Smalls served as collector of the port of Beaufort. He died on February 22, 1916.

CARL B. STOKES (1927–1996) Former Municipal Official

Carl Stokes was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 21, 1927. Stokes and his older brother, Louis, were raised by their mother following the death of their father in 1929. At the age of 18, he joined the Army and served in Europe near the end of World War II. Following the war, Stokes studied at West Virginia State and Western Reserve University, and served as a liquor enforcement agent from 1950-1953. He returned to school at the University of Minnesota, earning a B.S. in law in 1954. Stokes then completed his J.D. degree at the Cleveland Marshall School of Law.

Along with his brother, Stokes started a law practice in Cleveland in 1957, and a year later was appointed assistant city prosecutor by Cleveland mayor Anthony Celebreeze. Involved in the Civil Rights movement, Stokes served on the executive board of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP and joined the Urban League. In 1962 he won a seat in the Ohio General Assembly, becoming the first black Democrat to hold that office. He twice won reelection and served until his election as mayor of Cleveland in 1967.

Stokes’s victory made him the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city. In the election Stokes won 50 percent of the vote in a city with a 37 percent black population. The Stokes administration was defined by an attempt to increase city services in under-served communities, and an opening of city hall jobs to African Americans. The term was also marked by a deadly shoot-out in the city during urban riots in July 1968. Further damage was done when it was later revealed money from the mayor’s program, Cleveland Now!, had been paid to the black nationalist group implicated in the shootout.

Although Stokes won reelection in 1969, the shoot-out weakened the good will toward his administration and created a lasting friction among the administration, the police department, and the city council. Stokes, who enjoyed wide national recognition and was elected to the presidency of the National League of Cities in 1970, announced in 1971 that he would not seek a third term as mayor.

In 1972 Stokes left his hometown and became the first African American news anchor in the New York City area. He worked for WNBC television for eight years, serving as urban affairs editor and foreign correspondent in Africa. In 1973, Simon and Schuster published Stokes’s political biography, Promises of Power: A Political Autobiography. Stokes returned to law practice in Cleveland in 1981. He reentered the political arena in 1983 and was elected as a municipal court judge, a seat he held until 1994, when President Bill Clinton appointed him ambassador to the Seychelles. Stokes left the Seychelles on a medical leave-of-absence after he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus in 1995. He died in Cleveland on April 3, 1996.

LOUIS STOKES (1925– ) Civil Rights Activist, Federal Legislator, Attorney

Stokes was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 23, 1925. He was in the U.S. Army from 1943 until 1946. After leaving the service, he attended Case Western Reserve University from 1946 to 1948. He was awarded a J.D. in 1953 from Cleveland-Marshall Law School. After 14 years in private practice with the law firm of Stokes, Character, Terry and Perry, he was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1969.

As Ohio’s first African American representative, Stokes served on a number of committees including the Committee on Education and Labor, the House Internal Security Committee, and the Appropriations Committee. He also chaired the House Ethics Committee. As part of the House Assassination Committee, Stokes investigated the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy. In 1972 and 1973, Stokes chaired the Congressional Black Caucus, and he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972, 1976, and 1980. Stokes was the first African American to chair the Intelligence Committee of the House and the only African American that served on the Iran-Contra Committee. When he retired in 1999, Stokes became the first African American in the history of the U.S. Congress to retire having completed 30 years of service. After his tenure in Congress, Stokes became senior counsel at the global law firm og Squire, Sanders, and Dempsey, LLP and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University.

Stokes belongs to the Urban League, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Legion, and the African American Institute. He has served on the board of trustees of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Social Change and was vice president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP in 1965 and 1966. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, the William C. Dawson Award, and a Certificate of Appreciation from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, of which he was vice-chairman of the Cleveland subcommittee in 1966.

The recipient of numerous awards and honors for his strong commitment to public service, there are a number of landmarks throughout the city of Cleveland that bear his name including The Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Administration Hospital and The Louis Stokes Annex of the Cleveland Public Library. He has received 26 honorary doctorates and was awarded The Congressional Distinguished Service Award.

JOHN F. STREET (1943– ) Municipal Government Official

John F. Street was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on October 15, 1943. He attended Oakwood College, a Seventh Day Adventist school in Huntsville, Alabama and majored in English. He obtained his law degree from Temple University in 1975. After law school he was a clerk at Common Pleas Court and the U.S. Department of Justice. His professional career began as an elementary school and Opportunities Industrialization Center English teacher. He practiced law before being elected to the Philadelphia City Council in 1975.

Street represented North Philadelphia and Center City and became known for his advocacy for fair housing, increased spending for public education, and neighborhood improvements. In 1992 and 1996, Street was unanimously chosen by his council peers to serve as president. With his detailed knowledge of the City’s budget process and in collaboration with his predecessor Mayor Rendell, Street was instrumental in reducing Phil-adelphia’s $250 million deficit and turning it into the City’s largest surplus ever.

Street worked to revitalize Philadelphia’s declining neighborhoods by investing in them and tearing down abandoned buildings. In spite of initial opposition, the emphasis on neighborhoods has proven successful with property values appreciating about 30 percent since 2001; growth in the Center City population of about 14 percent between 1990 and 2000; creation of nearly 4,000 market-rate apartments and condominiums

In addition to forming the Philadelphia Children’s Commission to offer advice and have a positive impact on the lives of Philadelphia’s children, Street privatized Philadelphia/s public schools. Edison Schools and area universities were allowed to operate some of the City’s worst performing schools.

Health and wellness is another important focus of the Street administration. In 1999 when Men’s Fitness rates Philadelphia as the fattest city in the nation, he created the Office of Health and Fitness and initiated a city-wide walking campaign.

Street also is working to make Philadelphia a wireless city. Plans are underway to construct a city-wide wireless Wi-Fi network. Crime including a growing murder rate and youth violence are still significant problems in Philadelphia.

Recently, members of Street’s administration have been the subject of an FBI investigation in which wiretaps and other listening devices were placed in the Mayor’s office. The former city treasurer and one of Street’s fundraisers were involved in a corruption scheme which

led to a 10 year jail term for the city treasurer. The fundraiser died before going to trial. In spite of this investigation involving people close to Street, it is important to note that Street was never the subject of the federal investigation; he has never been charged with any criminal wrongdoing; and to this date, there is no evidence that he was ever involved with corruption.

LOUIS W. SULLIVAN (1933– ) Educational Administrator, Federal Government Official

Louis W. Sullivan was born on November 3, 1933, in Atlanta, Georgia. On March 1, 1989, the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Sullivan as secretary of health and human services by a vote of 98 to 1, making him the first African American appointed to a cabinet position during the administration of U.S. President George H. W. Bush.

Instrumental in the development of the Morehouse School of Medicine, which he founded in 1975 as a separate entity from Morehouse College, Sullivan served as professor of biology and medicine and as director and founder of the medical education program at Morehouse College. In 1981, he became Morehouse School of Medicine’s first dean and president.

Sullivan graduated from Morehouse College magna cum laude with a B.S. in 1954, and received his M.D. in 1958, graduating cum laude from Boston University. He completed his internship at New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center and his medical and general pathology residencies at Cornell Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital. He then fulfilled two fellowships and served in a variety of positions with Harvard Medical School, Boston City Hospital, New Jersey College of Medicine, Boston University Medical Center, the Boston Sickle Cell Center, and others.

Sullivan has been involved in numerous educational, medical, scientific, professional, and civic organizations; has earned advisory, consulting, research and academic positions; and has received many professional and public service awards. Sullivan’s research and activities focus on hematology, a branch of biology that deals with the formation of blood and blood-forming organs, and he has authored and coauthored more than 60 publications on this and other subjects. He is also the founding president of the Association of Minority Health Professions.

On January 20, 1989, Sullivan was nominated by President George H. W. Bush for the position of secretary of health and human services. He was sworn in on March 10, 1989. In his position, Sullivan was responsible for ensuring the safety of food, drugs, and medical research, and promoting health education. Upon the expiration of his term in January of 1993, he returned to Atlanta to resume his presidency of the Morehouse School of Medicine. Sullivan served in that capacity until his retirement on May 31, 2002. He continues to serve on the Morehouse School of Medicine Board of Trustees, teaching and assisting in national fundraising activities. Currently, Sullivan serves on the boards of Bristol Myers Squibb and 3M.

HAROLD WASHINGTON (1922–1987) Federal Legislator, Municipal Government Official, Attorney

Washington was born in Chicago on April 15, 1922. After serving with the Army Air Corps in the Pacific theater during World War II, he received a B.A. from Roosevelt University in 1949. Washington then received a J.D. in 1952 from Northwestern University Law School. After graduation, Washington worked as an assistant city prosecutor in Chicago from 1954 to 1958 and while establishing a private law practice, was an arbitrator with the Illinois Industrial Commission from 1960 to 1964.

Running on the Democratic ticket, Washington was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1965 and served until 1976 when he was elected to the Illinois Senate. He served in the state senate from 1977 to 1980. While a state legislator, Washington helped establish Illinois’s Fair Employment Practices Commission, secured passage of consumer protection legislation, and worked to designate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a state holiday. After the death of longtime Chicago mayor Richard J. Daly in 1977, Washington finished third in the four-man contest for the Democratic nomination for mayor of Chicago. In 1980, Washington was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and became a member of the 97th Congress. Washington served on the Education and Labor, Government Operations, and Judiciary Committees. Shortly after his reelection to the House, Washington won the Democratic nomination for mayor. In 1983 he won the election to become Chicago’s first African American mayor.

Although Washington’s mayoralty was marked by political infighting he did manage to institute some reforms including increased city hiring of minorities, deficit reduction, the appointment of an African American police commissioner, and reduction of patronage influence. Washington died while in office on November 25, 1987.

MAXINE WATERS (1938– ) Federal Legislator, Diplomat, State Representative

Waters was born in St. Louis on August 15, 1938. After graduating from high school, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked at a garment factory and for a telephone company. She eventually attended college and received a B.A. in sociology from California State University. She became interested in politics after teaching in a Head Start program and serving as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972.

In 1976, Waters was elected to the California State Assembly, where she served on numerous committees including the Ways and Means Subcommittee on State Administration, the Joint Committee of Public Pension Fund Investments, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, the Select Committee on Assistance to Victims of Sexual Assault, the California Committee on the Status of Women, the Natural Resources Committee, and the Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendment Committee. As a member of the California Assembly, she created the nation’s first statewide child abuse prevention training program, gained passage of a law prohibiting strip searches for nonviolent misdemeanors, and promoted legislation to prevent toxic chemical catastrophes.

In 1990, Waters was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where she has become an outspoken figure. In addition to holding the position of chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 1997-1998, Waters has served on the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee and the Veterans Affairs Committee. She has also served in the influential position of “Chief Deputy Whip” for the Democratic Party since the 106th Congress. Following the 2000 presidential election, Waters was named chair of the “Democratic Caucus Special Committee on Election Reform” by Richard Gephardt. Waters has fought for legislation promoting aid to poor and minority neighborhoods in American cities and combating apartheid in South Africa.

Waters is on the board of directors of Essence magazine, and is involved with the National Woman’s Political Caucus, the National Steering Committee on Education of Black Youth, and the National Steering Committee of the Center for Study of Youth Policy.

J. C. WATTS JR. (1957– ) Federal Legislator, Religious Leader

Julius Caesar Watts was born on November 18, 1957, in Eufaula, Oklahoma. His father is a minister and Eufaula City councilman, and his uncle once headed Oklahoma’s NAACP chapter. Educated at the University of Oklahoma, Watts was a star quarterback and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1980 and 1981 Orange Bowls. He graduated with a journalism degree but chose to continue in athletics, joining the Canadian Football League’s Ottawa Rough Riders. He played five years with the Rough Riders and one with the Toronto Argonauts. An ordained minister and motivational speaker for youth and church groups, Watts served as youth director at the Sunnylane Baptist Church at Del City, Oklahoma, and presided over the Watts Energy Corp.

Though he had long considered himself a Democrat, Watts became disenchanted with the direction the party was taking and decided to become a Republican in 1989. He was also approached by prominent Oklahoma Republicans to run in the state Republican primary. The following year he was elected chairperson of Oklahoma’s Corporation Commission. The win made him the first African American Oklahoman to win a statewide election. Strongly in favor of welfare reform, defense spending cuts, and a balanced budget, the charismatic Watts built a rapport with his home state that led to his 1994 election victory over the Democratic incumbent to the U.S. House of Representatives. In doing so, Watts became the first African American Republican from a southern state to win a seat in Congress since Reconstruction, and only the second African American Republican to win a seat in the House in 60 years. Watts received national publicity when he declined membership in the Congressional Black Caucus because in his opinion many of the members were Democratic liberals who betray Black people in America.

Watts was reelected to Congress in 1996, 1998, and 2000. In a 1996 speech before the Republican National Convention, Watts spoke eloquently about character. In 1997, he delivered the Republican response to President Clinton’s State of the Union Address. Shortly after elections of 1998, Watts was elected to become GOP conference chair, the party’s fourth-highest position. On July 1, 2002, Watts announced that he would not seek a fifth term in Congress in order to spend more time with his family. He became chairman of GOPAC which was formed in 1978 to build a cadre of Republican office-holders to run for higher state and national office. He served in that capacity until February 2007.

Currently, he is chairman of the J. C. Watts Companies which is a multi industry business that provides business development, communications, public affairs, diversity training, and other services to clients.

ROBERT C. WEAVER (1907–1997) Lecturer, Federal Government Official, Educator

Robert Weaver became the first African American appointed to a presidential cabinet post when President Lyndon B. Johnson named him head of the newly created Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on January 13, 1966. Previously, Weaver had served as head of the Housing and Home Finance Agency (HHFA) from 1961 to 1966.

Robert Weaver was born on December 29, 1907, in Washington, D.C., where he attended Dunbar High School and worked during his teens as an electrician. Encountering discrimination when he attempted to join a union, Weaver decided to go to college instead and concentrated on economics. Weaver attended Harvard University where he majored in economics, receiving a B.S., an M.S., and a Ph.D. Weaver’s grandfather, Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman, was the first African American to earn a D.O. in dentistry at Harvard.

Weaver was one of the academics brought to Washington during the New Deal. From 1934 to 1938, he served in the Department of the Interior in various roles. He was also a part of President Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet.” After leaving the Interior Department, Weaver served as a special assistant to the head of the National Housing Authority from 1938 to 1940. From 1940 to 1944, Weaver continued his work with the federal government through the War Production Board and the Negro Manpower Commission.

Weaver left the federal government because he felt implementation of anti-discriminatory measures was moving too slow. He moved in 1944 to Chicago, where he directed the Mayor’s Committee on Race Relations. From Chicago he divided his time between teaching and government service.

During the late 1940s and 1950s, Weaver concentrated his energies on the field of education. He became a professor of economics at the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina in Greensboro from 1931 to 1932. In 1947, he became a lecturer at Northwestern University and then became a visiting professor at Teachers College (Columbia University) and at the New York University School of Education. During this period, he was also a professor of economics at the New School for Social Research. From 1949 to 1955 he was director of the Opportunity Fellowships Program of the John Hay Whitney Foundation. Weaver also served as a member of the National Selection Committee for Fulbright Fellowships from 1952 to 1954, chairman of the Fellowship Committee of the Julius Rosenwald Fund, and a consultant to the Ford Foundation from 1959 to 1960.

In 1955, Weaver was named deputy state rent commissioner by New York’s governor Averell Harriman. By the end of the year, he had become state rent commissioner and the first African American to hold state cabinet rank in New York. From 1960 to 1961, he served as vice chairman of the New York City Housing and Redevelopment Board, a three-man body which supervised New York’s urban renewal and middle-income housing programs. Weaver headed the Department of Housing and Urban Development until 1968. From 1969 to 1970, he served as president of Baruch College. Weaver accepted a teaching position at the Department of Urban Affairs at Hunter College in New York in 1971. After he retired from Hunter College in 1978, Weaver continued to serve on the boards of corporations, as well as educational and public institutions. Weaver wrote four books and 185 articles. In 1985, he was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Weaver died in his New York City home on July 17, 1997.

WELLINGTON WEBB (1941– ) Municipal Government Official

Born February 17, 1941, Webb had to leave his South Side Chicago home to live with his grandmother in Denver, Colorado, due to asthma. After graduating from Colorado State College in 1964 with a B.A. in education, Webb worked in various public service-sector jobs, including forklift operator, welfare caseworker and special education teacher, while obtaining a master’s degree. In 1971, Webb received his M.A. in sociology from the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley.

In 1972, Webb was elected to the Colorado state legislature as a representative from the northeast section of Denver. He served there for four years, and rose to prominence within the Democratic Party in 1976 when Democratic presidential hopeful Jimmy Carter chose Webb to head the state’s national election committee. Upon Carter’s election, Webb was named a regional director of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. After leaving federal government service in 1981, Webb received an appointment from Colorado’s governor as executive director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. During his tenure in the early 1980s, Webb was the only African American in the state cabinet.

Webb ran for mayor of Denver first in 1983, but lost. In 1987, he ran successfully for the city auditor post. As city auditor, he was credited with restoring professionalism to the office. In 1991, he faced his city hall colleague, a popular African American district attorney, in another mayoral race. Webb won with 58 percent of the vote, despite being outspent by his well-financed opponent. He was reelected for a second term in 1995. Counted among Webb’s accomplishments as mayor are a 40 percent decrease in crime, an unemployment rate below 2 percent, completion of the new Denver International Airport, a new sports stadium, expansion of the Denver Art Museum, and developmentof a new African American Research Library, a strong economic base, and creation of 50,000 jobs. Webb won a third term in 1999 with a platform promising the revitalization of Denver’s poorer neighborhoods, the creation of more affordable housing, and the improved management of traffic congestion.

Webb has served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, as well as head of the National Conference of Black Mayors.

After his 12 year tenure as mayor of Denver, Webb briefly campaigned for the office of chairman of the Democratic National Committee in late 2004. Subsequently he withdrew endorsing Howard Dean. Webb is president of the Democratic Mayors and frequently lectures on civic issues at such places as Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

MICHAEL R. WHITE (1951– ) Municipal Government Official

Born and raised on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, Michael White was elected mayor of Cleveland in 1989. At the time, 40 percent of the city’s population was at or below the poverty line.

An alumnus of Ohio State University, White received a B.A. in education and an M.P.A. His political career started in 1974 when he became a special assistant for the mayor’s office in Columbus, Ohio. In 1978, White began six years on Cleveland’s city council, followed by four years in Columbus as a state senator. In 1989, White entered Cleveland’s mayoral race, running against three white candidates and City Council President George Forbes. White won the election.

The central issue for White’s administration was the future of Cleveland’s young people. Two focal points White worked toward were an upgrade of public education and the development of new jobs programs. White supported the development of the Lake Erie waterfront, and the completion of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

When Bill Clinton became president in 1992, White was invigorated by the potential changes with govern-ment’s relationship to the cities. He was an outspoken supporter of Clinton’s plans to get rid of the old welfare system. In 1995, White met with the National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to try and keep the Browns from moving to Baltimore. White secured a new team which began play in 1999, the same year a new football stadium opened.

In 1999, White launched a major investigation of Cleveland’s police department. The inquiry focused on allegations of racism within the force. Despite the appearance of racist graffiti in a number of station locker rooms and accusations that some of the city’s officers had worn white supremacist symbols on their uniforms, the investigation ended in March 2000 with White announcing no evidence had been found indicating the operation of hate groups in the department.

Michael White did not seek a fourth term as mayor of the city. He finished serving his third term on December 31, 2001. White retired to an alpaca farm in Ohio after the new mayor assumed office.

LAWRENCE DOUGLAS WILDER (1931– ) Attorney, State Government Official

Wilder was born on January 17, 1931, in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Union University in 1951 with a B.S. in chemistry. After graduation he was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to a combat infantry unit in Korea. During the Korean War he was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery and valor in combat. After being discharged from the army in 1953 Wilder worked as a chemist in the Virginia State Medical Exam-iner’s Office. Later he studied law under the G. I. Bill graduating in1959 with a J.D. from Howard University Law School.

After co-founding the firm of Wilder, Gregory, and Associates, Wilder practiced law in Richmond until 1969 when he became the first African American elected to the Virginia State Senate since Reconstruction. Wilder chaired the important Privileges and Elections Committee and worked on legislation supporting fair-housing, union rights for public employees, and minority hiring. He also voted against capital punishment (a position he has since rescinded). In 1985 Wilder was elected lieutenant-governor becoming the first African American elected to a statewide executive position in the South in the 20th century. In 1989 he became Virginia’s first African American governor, winning the election by 1/3 of 1 percent of the vote. In recognition of this extraordinary achievement, the NAACP awarded Wilder the Spingarn Medal for 1900, its highest honor.

As governor, Wilder streamlined the state’s budget, eliminated the state’s $2.2 billion deficit, and worked to get civil rights legislation passed. Virginia law does not allow its governor to serve consecutive terms. After his term as governor, Wilder remained active in Virginia politics. From 1995–2001, Wilder hosted a popular weekly radio program, The Doug Wilder Show. In 1998, he was selected as president of his alma mater, Virginia Union University, but rescinded his acceptance of the position shortly before he was to be inaugurated as president. In 2004, Wilder ran successfully for Mayor of Richmond garnering 79 percent of the vote. Wilder was the first directly elected Mayor of Richmond in years.

In 1979, Wilder won the Distinguished Alumni Award presented by Virginia Union University. In succeeding years, he received the 1982 President’s Citation from Norfolk State University, was named the 1993 Alumnus of the Year from the Howard Law School Alumni Association, and earned the 1985 Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement in Law and Politics Award. Wilder belongs to the Richmond Urban League, Richmond Bar Association, American Judicature Society, American Trial Lawyers Association, Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, NAACP, and is vice president of the Virginia Human Relations Council..

Wilder continues to work toward the selection of a site and the construction of a slavery museum in his native state. In February 2002, Wilder was appointed by Governor Mark Warner as chairman of a 13-member commission to study the effectiveness and efficiency of Virginia’s state government. In 2004, Virginia Commonwealth University named its School of Government and Public Affairs in honor of L. Douglas Wilder. The Virginia Union University library is also named in honor of Wilder

ANDREW YOUNG (1932– ) Diplomat, Municipal Government Official/Executive, Federal Legislator, Civil Rights Activist

Andrew Young was born in New Orleans on March 12, 1932, and received a B.S. degree from Howard University in 1951 and a B.Div. in 1955 from the Hartford Theological Seminary. He was ordained a minister in the United Church of Christ and then served in churches in Alabama and Georgia before joining the staff of the National Council of Churches in 1957.

The turning point of Young’s life came in 1961, when he joined Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and became a trusted aide and close confidante. He became executive vice president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1967, and remained with King until King’s 1968 assassination. During his years with SCLC, Young also developed several programs including antiwar protests, voter registration projects, and other major civil rights drives.

In 1970 Young lost a bid for the U.S. House of Representatives. In the aftermath of the election, Young was appointed chair of the Community Relations Committee (CRC). Though the CRC was an advisory group with no enforcement powers, Young took an activist role, pressing the city government on many issues, from sanitation and open housing to mass transit, consumer affairs, and Atlanta’s drug problem. Young’s leadership in the CRC led to a higher public profile and answered critics’ charges that he was inexperienced in government.

Young launched another bid for a congressional seat in 1972. African Americans comprised only 44 percent of the voters in Young’s congressional district. However, Young captured 23 percent of the white vote and 54 percent of the total vote to win by a margin of 8,000 votes. Young was the first African American representative to be elected from Georgia since Jefferson Long in 1870. One year later, in 1973, Young was named the recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize.

Young was one of the most vocal supporters of his fellow Georgian Jimmy Carter’s campaign for the U.S. presidency in 1976. Following President Carter’s inauguration, Young left Congress in 1977 to become America’s ambassador to the United Nations. Young’s tenure there was marked by controversy—his outspoken manner sometimes ruffled diplomatic feathers. Among his most important contributions were helping to bring peace and a new constitution to Zimbabwe; improving relations with Nigeria; and generally fostering improved relations between the United States and r developing countries.

Young’s career as a diplomat came to an end in 1979 when he met secretly with a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to discuss an upcoming vote in the UN. America had a policy that none of its representatives would meet with the PLO as long as it refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a state. When the news of Young’s meeting leaked out, an uproar followed. Young tendered his resignation, which President Carter accepted. The incident badly strained African American-Jewish relations as African Americans felt Jewish leaders were instrumental in Young’s removal.

When Maynard Jackson was prevented by law from running for his third term of office as mayor of Atlanta in 1981, Young entered the race. Race entered the campaign when Jackson charged that African Americans who supported the white candidate, State Legislator Sidney Marcus, with “selling out” the civil rights movement. Jackson’s remarks were widely criticized, and it was feared that they would create a backlash against Young, too. However, Young ended up with 55 percent of the total vote. He had won 10.6 percent of the white vote, compared to the 12 percent he had won in the primary, and 88.4 percent of the black vote, up from 61 percent earlier.

Young took office at a time when Atlanta was going through several economic and social problems including a shrinking population and a stagnating tax base. In addition, almost a quarter of the city’s residents were below the poverty line, and the city was still shaken by the recent murders of 28 African American youths and the disappearance of another. Some critics doubted Young’s ability to deal with Atlanta’s problems. He was seen as anti-business and a weak administrator. But by 1984, the city had become so successful at attracting new businesses that it was experiencing a major growth spurt. In addition, the crime rate dropped sharply and racial harmony seemed an established fact. Young was decisively reelected.

Limited by law to two terms as mayor, Young ran unsuccessfully for governor of Georgia in 1990. His wife died of cancer four years later. In 1994, Young wrote his autobiography A Way Out of No Way: The Spiritual Memoirs of Andrew Young. He was co-chair of the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games and a member of various boards of directors including those of Delta Airlines and Host Marriott Corp. He also remained very active as president of Young Ideas, a consulting firm he founded. In 1995, Young headed up the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund, which, in 1996, began offering low-interest loans to small businesses in South Africa and other countries in the same region. In 2001, he attempted to help resolve the issue of forcible land seizure in Zimbabwe from white landowners by black war veterans, meeting with the country’s president, Robert Mugabe.

Currently, Young is co-chair of Good Works International, a consulting firm that offers international market access and political risk analysis in key emerging markets within Africa and the Caribbean.

In February 2006, Young became chair of Working Families for Wal-Mart, an organization sponsored by the retail corporate giant in response to public criticism that the company exploits its workers; discriminates against women and African American employees; and that the company’s American employees and their children are on public assistance. Six months later following his comments in an interview that were controversial and criticized as racist, Young ended his involvement with Working Families for Wal-Mart.

COLEMAN A. YOUNG (1918–1997) Municipal Government Official

Long-time Detroit icon Coleman Young announced on June 22, 1993, that he would not seek reelection for the mayoralty of the city that fall. Young had won each of his mayoral elections by a wide margin. The only mayor in the history of Detroit to serve five consecutive terms led the media to dub him “mayor for life.” Once recognized as an urban savior, Detroit’s highly publicized problems—crime, declining population, and poor economic standing—had finally instilled doubts in the voters regarding Young’s abilities.

Young was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on May 24, 1918. His family moved to Detroit in 1926, after the Ku Klux Klan ransacked a neighborhood in Huntsville, where his father was learning to be a tailor. In Detroit, Young attended Catholic Central and then Eastern High School, graduating from the latter with honors. He had to reject a scholarship to the University of Michigan when the Eastern High School Alumni Association, in contrast to policies followed with poor white students, declined to assist him with costs other than tuition.

Young entered an electrician’s apprentice school at the Ford Motor Company. He finished first in the program but was passed over for the only available electrician job in favor of a white candidate. Working on the assembly line, he soon became engaged in underground union activities. Attacked by a company man one day, Young defended himself by hitting his assailant on the head with a steel bar, leading to Young’s dismissal.

During World War II, Young was a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Force and was commissioned a second lieutenant. Stationed at Freeman Field, Indiana, he demonstrated against the exclusion of African Americans from segregated officers’ clubs and was arrested along with 100 other African American airmen including Thurgood Marshall and Percy Sutton, former president of New York’s Borough of Manhattan. Young spent three days in jail. Shortly thereafter, the clubs were opened to African American officers.

After the war, Young returned to his union-organizing activities and was named director of organization for the Wayne County AFL-CIO in 1947. However, the union fired him in 1948 when he supported Henry Wallace, candidate of the Progressive Party, in the presidential election. The union regarded Wallace as an agent of the Communist Party and supported Harry Truman. Young managed a dry cleaning plant for a few years, then founded and directed the National Negro Labor Council in 1951. The council successfully prevailed on Sears Roe-buck & Co. and the San Francisco Transit System to hire African Americans. However, they also aroused the interest of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was in the midst of hunting for alleged communists. When brought before the committee, Young, who denied he was ever a communist, refused to name anyone. Though he emerged from the hearing with his self-respect intact, his council was placed on the attorney general’s subversive list. In 1956, the council was disbanded, and charges of Young’s communist involvement were used against him, albeit unsuccessfully, during his first mayoral campaign.

After working at a variety of jobs, Young won a seat on the Michigan Constitutional Convention in 1961. The following year he lost a race for state representative but became director of campaign organization for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Wayne County (Detroit). He sold life insurance until 1964, when, with union support, he was elected to the state senate. In the senate, he was a leader of the civil rights forces fighting for low-income housing for people dislocated by urban renewal and for bars to discrimination in the hiring practices of the Detroit police force.

Young declared his candidacy for mayor of Detroit in 1973, and mounted a vigorous campaign for the office. He won the office after a racially divisive campaign. Among his early successes in office were the integration of the Detroit police department and promotion of African American officers into administrative positions. The new mayor also created a coalition of business and labor to preserve the industries remaining in Detroit and attract new ones. Young’s outspoken and opinionated nature and his fondness for using expletives earned him both passionate supporters and bitter enemies. A Democrat and one of the first big-city mayors to support Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign in 1976, Young had a very close relationship with the Carter administration. He turned down a federal cabinet position offered to him by Carter, but his relationship with the president proved helpful in securing funds for Detroit.

In the 1980s, Young was intensely critical of the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and President George Bush, with their cutbacks in federal aid to urban areas. The federal government seized several opportunities to scrutinize Young as well. Over the years, Young’s administration was investigated on more than six different charges including improprieties in the awarding of city contracts and illegal personal use of city funds by the police department; however, Young himself was never personally implicated in the scandals.

Young’s popularity was bolstered by a number of citywide improvements credited to him such as the expansion of riverfront attractions, which brought increased convention and tourist traffic to the city and favorable tax abatements that attracted new businesses, including two major automobile plants. Middle-class and white flight to the suburbs, which had begun at the end of the 1960s, continued to rob the city’s coffers of essential tax revenue. Some critics argued that Young’s attitude toward suburbanites contributed to the phenomenon. Near the end of his tenure, Young endured a barrage of disapproval for autocratic style and his emphasis on cosmetic improvements rather than focusing on true remedies for the decay of the city.

In 1989, Coleman Young won his fifth term as Motor City mayor. Despite a high unemployment rate, a shortage of cash, and a high crime rate, the voters returned the popular Young to office. During 1990, both Detroit and its mayor were targets of highly critical feature stories in the New York Times and on CBS. Commentary revolved around Detroit’s sagging economy, brutal crime statistics, racial stratification, and a supposed general air of despair. Young countered that under his administration, the city managed to balance its budget despite a dramatic cutback in federal and state aid. He also noted that many neighborhoods had undergone extensive renovation and a new automobile manufacturing plant had opened within the city limits.

In 1993, when Young felt that he no longer had the necessary vitality to run a big city, a major chapter in Detroit politics came to a close. Young turned his attentions towards writing, with Lonnie Wheeler, Hard Stuff: The Autobiography of Coleman Young. After he left politics, Young was a professor of urban affairs at Detroit’s Wayne State University, where he continued to raise dialogue about race and class issues. Young was in poor health during his last years and suffered from heart trouble, chronic emphysema, and other respiratory problems. He died on November 29, 1997.

Local Elected Officials by Sex, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Type of Government: 1992
  General purposeSpecial purpose
Sex, race, and Hispanic originTotalCountyMunicipalTown, townshipSchool districtSpecial district
source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1992 Census of Governments, Popularly Elected Officials, (GC92(1)-2).
Sex not reported69,0442,73013,89823,0439,26120,112
American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut1,80014777686564227
Asian, Pacific Islander514809716184137
Race, Hispanic origin not reported74,0694,17115,21223,8119,57021,305
Political Party Identification of the Adult Population, by Degree of Attachment, 1972 to 1994, and by Selected Characteristics, 1994
[In percent. Covers citizens of voting-age living in private housing units in the contiguous United States. Data are from the National Election Studies and are based on a sample and subject to sampling variability; for details, see source]
Year and Selected CharacteristicTotalStrong DemocratWeek DemocratIndependent DemocratIndependentIndependent RepublicanWeek RepublicanStrong RepublicanApolitical
- Represents zero.
1Includes other characteristics, not shown separately.
source: Center for Political Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, unpublished data. Data prior to 1988 published in Warren E. Miller and Santa A. Traugott, American National Election Studies Data Sourcebook, 1952–1986, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1989 (copyright).
1994, total1100151913101215161
17 to 24 years old1009202210819101
25 to 34 years old100111914121116161
35 to 44 years old10013181412111418-
45 to 54 years old10015161571612171
55 to 64 years old100182288161215-
65 to 74 years old100281768131415-
75 to 99 years old100192699517132
Grade school100262671371164
High School100152214131013111


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Jewish involvement in national politics in the various countries in which they settled dates from the period of Jewish emancipation at the end of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century. In fact, personalities such as Joseph *Nasi, duke of Naxos, and Solomon *Ashkenazi held powerful positions in Ottoman politics in the late Middle Ages; Jewish ministers held office in medieval Spain; and Jews served as court advisers to various rulers in Holland, Germany, and Sweden. Nevertheless, professing Jews entered representative institutions of modern states only at a much later date. Until the Emancipation, Jews who were eager to hold political office were generally obliged to content themselves with participation in local government (as in Russia) or to convert to Christianity. The political emancipation of the Jews came in the U.S. from the late 18th century and in parts of Western Europe it was effected soon after the outbreak of the French Revolution. Thus, in Holland, Moses *Asser and Jonas Daniel *Meyer were appointed in 1797 to the legislative council and state council and, in Venice, following the overthrow of the oligarchy, the elected municipal council contained three Jewish members. In France and Germany, Jews were still generally excluded from political office but, even after the onset of reaction at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, it was clear that Jewish emancipation could not be long delayed. Soon after the 1848 revolutions in Europe, Jews were permitted to become members of representative institutions in nearly all major European states, outside the Russian Empire.

In English-speaking countries other than Britain and Canada, Jewish entry into political life developed more rapidly than elsewhere. The small Jewish community in the United States enthusiastically supported the revolutionary cause, and in 1775 Francis *Salvador was elected to the South Carolina Provincial Congress, probably the first Jew to be elected to a representative assembly in modern times. The Declaration of Independence, issued the following year, affirmed the principle of equality and Jews were freely admitted into all American legislative bodies from that time onward. No restrictions ever existed on Jewish political activities in Australia and South Africa, and Jewish pioneers in these territories were prominent in public affairs, as mayors of cities, legislators, and, in the case of Sir Julius *Vogel and Vabian *Solomon, as prime ministers. On the other hand, in Canada and Great Britain, where Jews received the right to serve as representatives in parliament in 1832 and 1851, respectively, they had previously been refused this right because they could not swear "on the true faith of a Christian," as the oath required.

Once admitted to parliament, Jews rapidly achieved top government posts in the democracies outside America and rose to ministerial rank in France in the 1850s (Achille *Fould), Holland in the 1860s (Michael *Godefroy), Australia in the 1870s (Sir Julius Vogel), Britain in the 1880s (Henry de *Worms), and Italy at the turn of the 20th century (Luigi *Luzzatti). On the other hand, professing Jews were generally deprived of ministerial status in Germany and Austria, but there was no discrimination against converts, and Franz Klein, Austrian minister of justice, was the only unconverted Jew to become a minister in a Central European national government before 1918. In America, on the other hand, Jews were not victims of discrimination, but neither were they as a rule sufficiently integrated into American society to participate in national politics.

One important reason why Jews did not hold ministerial posts in many states, especially before World War i, was that Jewish politicians were generally numbered among the opposition radical parties of the center and left. This was particularly true of Germany and Austria where, following the upheavals after World War i, a number of Jews who had been prominent in the Socialist parties assumed senior government positions. The same situation proved true of France and Britain, where Socialist administrations brought Jews into cabinets, but conservative governments rarely included any Jewish members. Thus, in France all three Jewish prime ministers professed varying shades of socialism, and in England, of ten professing Jews to become members of British cabinets (up to 1970), only Sir Keith *Joseph was a Conservative. A similar trend was noticeable elsewhere.

A number of reasons have been advanced for the Jewish tendency toward radical parties. One of the most obvious is that liberal and left-wing political groups have generally been far less hostile to underprivileged newcomers (as Jews generally were) than conservative parties. The Right associated itself with the Church, the establishment, and social tradition – three concepts with which Jews had no connection – and was frequently antisemitic, while the radical groups, committed to challenge the establishment and alter tradition, were obviously more attractive to Jewish voters and prospective politicians alike. This reason also explains why Jews found advancement in left-wing parties much easier than in rightist ones (e.g., Ferdinand *Lassalle, Eduard *Bernstein, Leon *Blum, and others). Even in 1970 it was as true as at the beginning of the 20th century, that Jews in Western Europe were found mainly in the Socialist and Liberal parties and in the United States in the Democratic Party.

In pre-revolutionary Russia Jews were officially discriminated against and deprived of the opportunity to air their grievances democratically. Many of them, particularly young intellectuals who did not choose to emigrate overseas or join the Zionist movement, were impelled toward revolution. The Socialist revolutionaries and both Menshevik and Bolshevik factions of the Social Democrats seemed to be the only real alternative to the autocracy of the czars, which openly professed antisemitism. Many middle-class Jews in Russia did vote for the liberal Constitutional Democratic (Kadet) Party, but many more supported political groups that sought not to reform, but to destroy the existing regime. As a result, a significant proportion of the Social Democratic party consisted of the Jewish *Bund, and among the leaders of the general revolutionary parties the number of Jews was also disproportionately high.

Undoubtedly, Socialist doctrine, with its emphasis on equality and the destruction of the ruling classes, had a considerable appeal to Jewish intellectuals fighting against discrimination. This proved true not only in Russia, but in other European countries amid the convulsions at the end of World War i. Jews practically dominated the short-lived Communist regimes in Hungary (Béla Kun) and Bavaria (Kurt *Eisner), and it is reasonable to assume that this fact contributed to their quick downfall, since they lacked support in the general population. They were murdered or forced into exile when the counterrevolutionaries took control. After World War ii Jews were again prominent at the head of East European Communist regimes (*Rakosi became the party leader in Hungary, *Minc and *Berman leading members of the Polish Communist regime under Bierut, and a number of Jews held key ministries in Czechoslovakia). This was largely a result of the fact that during the Stalin period Moscow could rely more on Soviet-trained old Communists of the satellite countries, among whom Jews played a prominent part. These Jews, however, did not reflect the general political attitude of the Jewish population in those countries and ultimately, when the Stalinist regimes crumbled there, they mostly disappeared or were openly attacked, frequently with antisemitic allusions (particularly in Poland and Czechoslovakia). In the Soviet Union the number of Jews in the top leadership sharply declined from the great Stalinist purges of the 1930s onward. In contrast to the prominent position of individual Jews in the Communist movement, Jews were never active in other totalitarian regimes and hardly any right-wing dictatorships included Jewish ministers. Clearly, Jews could not be expected to support regimes whose policy was specifically antisemitic, and in other dictatorships not characterized by antisemitism, the authorities were nonetheless reluctant to number Jews in their party in order not to cause offense to antisemitic elements.

An important issue connected with the involvement of Jews in politics is the degree to which Jewish and national interests have clashed. In Germany most leading Jews generally accepted the principle that German national interests were of paramount importance (e.g., Levin *Goldschmidt), and were anxious to prove their loyalty to the state in the face of attacks by antisemites. Furthermore, Jewish politicians, with very few exceptions – mostly Zionists – were assimilationists and had no interest in Jewish affairs. Most Jewish Socialist politicians in Germany as well as Austria rejected Judaism and, either by converting to Christianity or professing atheism, demonstrated their detachment from any Jewish interests. On the other hand, in English-speaking countries, where Jews were less subject to antisemitic pressures and were not required to prove their social integration by assimilation, Jewish politicians were frequently prepared to oppose government policies even in face of accusations of "dual loyalty." In the United States and Great Britain Jewish political leaders repeatedly pressed their governments to take steps to stop antisemitic excesses in Central and Eastern Europe and help Jewish immigration and settlement in Palestine. Later, in the United States, Jews were also in the forefront of demands upon the government to increase its assistance to Israel in the face of Arab threats. In supporting Israel, Jewish politicians in English-speaking countries often clashed openly not only with the government of their country but also with their parties as, e.g., Labor mps in Britain during the Sinai Campaign (1956) or Jewish supporters of De Gaulle in France after the Six-Day War of 1967. Jewish politicians in South Africa generally accepted Israel's clear stand at the un against their government's apartheid policy. However, the degree to which Jewish politicians canvassed Jewish issues often tended to reflect the political advantage to be gained by it. Jewish politicians in New York City have an interest in the large Jewish vote; those in most parts of Europe are more conscious of the antisemites. Nevertheless, though Jewish interests have been pressed hard on occasion, Jews rarely organized themselves for solely political purposes and have in most instances denied the existence of a Jewish political interest. In some East European countries, before World War ii, many Jews were elected to parliament as Jews, i.e., as representatives of the Jewish community or of Jewish parties, and in such cases there was no question of conflicting loyalties. In Hapsburg Austria-Hungary Jews had the choice of voting for the assimilationist Socialists, many of whose leaders were Jewish, or the Jewish, i.e., Zionist Party, while before and after World War i Jews from different political parties united to defend the Jews from state persecution. Although these groups never had substantial influence in general politics, they played an important part in maintaining the unity of the Jewish communities and providing a forum for airing Jewish grievances.


No discrimination existed against Jews in Australia and they played an important part in the early development of the Australian colonies. As a result, Jews were identified with Australian political life from the first years of self-government. The first Jew to be elected to an Australian legislative body was Sir Saul *Samuel, who became a member of the New South Wales legislative council in 1854. He was joined by Jacob Montefiore, who was elected in 1856 while the first Jewish members of the Victoria legislative assembly were Nathaniel Levi who was elected in 1860, Charles Dyte who represented Ballarat East from 1864 to 1871 and championed miners rights on the Ballarat goldfields, and J.F. Levien, who was a member of the Victoria parliament for over 30 years. Other prominent figures included Judah Moss *Solomon who represented Adelaide in the South Australian parliament from 1858 to 1874, Edward Cohen (1822–1877) who represented East Melbourne from 1864 until his death, and Ephraim Zox (1837–1897) who succeeded him as member for East Melbourne. Jewish representation in the 19th-century Australian parliament was out of proportion to their total number and in Adelaide where the Jewish population was only 500 there were four Jewish members of the legislative assembly (Judah Moss Solomon, Emanuel Solomon, Vabian Solomon, and Lewis Cohen). Four Jews also held ministerial posts in Australian colonial governments: Sir Saul Samuel was minister of finance and trade, Edward Cohen served as commissioner of customs, Sir Julian *Salomons became vice president of the New South Wales executive council, while Vabian Solomon was premier of South Australia for a short time in 1899.

When the first Australian federal parliament met in Melbourne in 1901 there were three Jewish members, Vabian and Elias Solomon, and Pharez Phillips. However, few Jews were subsequently elected to the Australian federal parliament, prominent exceptions being Senator Sam *Cohen, who was deputy leader of the Australian Labor Party, and Max Falstein. Many Jews played an important part in the various state parliaments, however, particularly in Victoria where several rose to the rank of minister, among them Theodore *Fink, minister without portfolio, Henry Isaac Cohen who held several ministerial appointments, Harold Edward Cohen who was minister of public instruction and solicitor general, and in New South Wales Abram *Landa who was successively minister of labor, housing, and cooperative societies. In addition, Matthew Moss was a minister in the government of Western Australia and Sir Asher Joel was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council. Two Jews also acquired distinction as speakers of parliaments, Sir Daniel Levy being speaker of the New South Wales parliament and Sir Archie Michaelis (d. 1975) was speaker of the Victorian parliament. Most distinguished of all was Sir Isaac *Isaacs, chief justice of Australia, who was governor-general of Australia from 1931 to 1936, the first Australian-born governor-general and the first Jewish governor-general of any British Dominion territory. In subsequent years, fewer Jews have served in Australia's federal parliament, although four – Peter *Baume, Joe *Berinson, Barry *Cohen, and Sam *Cohen – have served in Australian cabinets since the 1970s. Sir Zelman *Cowen was governor-general of Australia in 1977–82.

[Isidor Solomon]


Although a few Jews were prominent in Austrian political society in the 17th and 18th centuries as court advisors to Hapsburg monarchs, Jews were not generally allowed to hold political posts until after the reforms which followed the outbreak of the 1848 Revolution. Five Jews were elected to the first revolutionary parliament of that year: Adolph *Fischhof, Joseph Goldmark, Abraham Halpern, Isaac Noah *Mannheimer, and Rabbi Dov Ber *Meisels. The suppression of the revolutionary movement, however, led to the renewal of restrictions on Jews and they were denied the right to hold government or municipal offices. These rights were restored in 1860 when liberal legislation allowed the Jews various civil liberties and two Jews, Ignaz *Kuranda and Simon Winterstein, were elected to the Reichsrat. In the same year Baron Anselm von *Rothschild was made a member of the Austrian upper house. The constitution of 1867 abolished all discrimination on the basis of religion, and for over half a century Jews suffered no legal restrictions on their entry into public life though anti-Jewish prejudice frequently acted as an equally effective bar. Except for Franz Klein who was twice minister of justice, no professing Jews held ministerial posts in the Hapsburg Empire until October 1918. In the half century between the promulgation of the constitution of 1867 and the collapse of the Hapsburg Empire, a number of Jews became prominent figures in Austrian politics. They included successful industrialists and bankers such as Simon Winterstein, Baron Anselm von Rothschild, Moritz von *Koenigswarter, and Rudolph *Auspitz. Most Jews were members of the German Liberal Party but toward the end of the century many turned to the new Social Democratic Party under Victor *Adler which acquired wide support among the Jews of Austria and rapidly became the target of antisemitic attacks. Among the leaders of the party were Wilhelm *Ellenbogen, Friedrich Austerlitz, and Otto *Bauer, all of whom pledged their sole allegiance to the Socialist cause, supported Jewish assimilation, and opposed all forms of Jewish nationalism, believing that this was an effective way of combating growing antisemitism. By contrast, Rabbi Joseph Samuel *Bloch formed the Union Oesterreichischer Juden to defend Austrian Jewry against the antisemites and on the two occasions he was elected to the Reichsrat fought strenuously against anti-Jewish discrimination. Following the granting of universal suffrage at the end of 1906 four Jews were elected to parliament as members of the newly formed Jewish National Party (*Volkspartei, Juedische) which advocated an independent Jewish policy and was pro-Zionist. Its members were Heinrich Gabel, Arthur Mahler, and Adolf Stand, all from Galicia, and Benno Straucher from Bukovina. During World War i many Jewish Socialists opposed the war and for most of the war were an ineffective minority, but the pro-Western liberal politician Joseph *Redlich became increasingly more important and was briefly minister of finance at the end of the war. With the creation of the Austrian Republic in November 1918, a Socialist government took office with the Socialist leader Otto Bauer as foreign minister. Bauer and Friedrich *Adler were among the party leaders to combat the threat of a Communist revolution which became a serious possibility as long as the short-lived Bolshevik regime of Béla Kun held power in Hungary. But though the Socialists retained their respectability as an anti-Communist party, the fact that a large number of their leaders were of Jewish origin, among whom were Julius *Braunthal, Robert Danneberg, and Hugo *Breitner, was a continual source of embarrassment to the party. Many Vienna Jews voted for the Socialist Party but many also supported the Zionist candidates of whom Robert *Stricker was elected to the Austrian National Assembly and three others were elected to the Vienna city council. The Zionist candidates were not subsequently successful, however, largely because the Jewish refugees from the eastern part of the old Hapsburg Empire, who were the least assimilated and the most pro-Zionist, were denied the right to vote at all. However, toward the end of the 1920s the Zionist parties gained strength in the Jewish communal elections while the Jewish Socialists declined in importance in both communal and national politics following the resurgence of the nationalist and later fascist parties. When Chancellor *Dollfuss assumed rule by executive decree, Jewish Socialist leaders like Braunthal and Breitner were among those temporarily imprisoned as part of the policy of destruction of the Social Democratic Party, but for a time Jews were allowed to become members of the Vaterlaendische Front. However, following the Anschluss with Germany in March 1938 Austrian Jews were deprived of all their political and civil rights and many fled the country to avoid arrest, among them Otto Bauer, Friedrich Adler, and Hugo Breitner. After World War ii few Jews were active in politics in Austria, a notable exception being Bruno *Kreisky who became successively foreign minister, chairman of the Social Democratic Party, and in 1970, chancellor of the Austrian Republic, remaining in office until 1983.


Prior to the British conquest in 1759, Canada was a French colony. Only Roman Catholics were legally allowed to settle in the colony. Protestants and Jews were excluded. But when France ceded Canada to Great Britain at the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the common law of England became the law of the new British colony. Nevertheless, as a Jew Ezekiel Hart, first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Canada in 1808, was prevented from taking his seat and again in 1809. The Jews of Montreal petitioned the Legislature of Lower Canada for the recognition of a Jewish religious corporation. A "Jewish Magna Carta" of 1831–32 was passed in which it was declared that Jews were to be "entitled to the full rights and privileges of other subjects of His Majesty … and capable of taking, having, or enjoying any office or place of trust within this Province." Nevertheless, long before the passage of the 1832 Bill of Rights, a tradition of public service among the early Jews of Canada had already existed – as early as Aaron Hart, who was postmaster in Three Rivers in 1763, and in 1790 John Frank, chief of the fire brigade of Quebec.

The theoretical question of whether Jews possessed equal rights had long before been resolved by parliament in England where almost a full century earlier rights had been accorded Jews in 1740. In 1832 Jews in the British colonies of North America were granted naturalization although in Canada the problem was at first complicated by the absence of an oath-taking procedure appropriate to Jews. And even later, after the Law of 1832, it took Royal intervention to smooth the way. Thereafter, however, Jews could stand for and hold political office without any of the former impediments.

As early as 1871, Henry Nathan from Victoria, British Columbia, was elected a member of parliament in Ottawa. Almost a half-century would pass before another Jew, Samuel Jacobs from Montreal in 1917, was sent to Ottawa as an elected member of parliament. After World War i, Peter Bercovitch, Maurice Hartt and A.A. Heaps were elected in the House of Commons. During and after World War ii, the numbers of Jewish members of parliament increased significantly, especially during the 1960s. Jews were elected for most parties, including Fred *Rose, the only Communist ever elected to the House. David *Lewis of the New Democratic Party was the only Jew chosen to lead a federal party. In 1969, Pierre Elliott Trudeau appointed the first Jew to a federal cabinet minister, Herbert *Gray, as minister without portfolio. Since that day, a government without a Jew in a cabinet post has become the exception rather than the rule. In 2005 two Jews were members of the federal cabinet, Justice Minister and Attorney General Irwin *Cotler, and Jacques Saada, who was the minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and minister responsible for the Francaphonie.

Jews have also been prominent in provincial politics. They have led major political parties in Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia. Dave *Barrett, leader of the New Democratic Party in British Columbia, went on to become the first Jewish provincial premier, serving between 1972 and 1975. There have also been many Jewish elected mayors of towns and cities across Canada, particularly in the smaller towns of Ontario, and in the West. The first Jewish mayor elected in the Province of Quebec was William Hyman of Gaspé in 1858. Vancouver elected a Jewish mayor, David Oppenheimer, in December 1887. He was a crucial figure in the creation of the services necessary for the city. In Toronto Nathan *Phillips, elected in 1952, was the first non-Protestant ever elected mayor of Toronto. His election was a major step in the transformation of Toronto from a solid and stolid outpost of British and conservative values to a modern pluralist metropolis. Philips served for eight years. Since then, Philip *Givens and Mel *Lastman have also served as mayors of Toronto. In 1955 Leonard Kitz was elected mayor of Halifax. In 2004, Stephen Mandel was elected mayor of Edmonton and Sam Katz mayor of Winnipeg.

The widening acceptance of Jews in civil society in the first decades after World War ii encouraged politicians to appoint Jews to ranking public service positions. Prime among them was Louis *Rasminsky who, after some disappointments, was named the governor of the Bank of Canada in 1961; little more than a decade later, with Bora *Laskin pointed chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada in 1973, the fact of Jews being appointed in the upper reaches of the public service was becoming so accepted that it hardly merited comment. This included the appointment of Jews to major diplomatic posts. Canadian Jews have, for example, served as ambassadors to the United States, Germany, Turkey, the United Nations, and to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

As in other arenas of Canadian public life, such as the judiciary and the press, Jews have achieved a presence in Canadian politics and what was exceptional before World War ii became increasingly commonplace by the late 1960s. In the early 21st century Jews were politically active in the Canadian public square from one ocean to the other and at all levels of government.

[Stuart E. Rosenberg /

Richard Menkis and

Harold Troper (2nd ed.)]


After the resettlement of the Jews in England in 1656, they enjoyed social freedom, but did not achieve full political emancipation until 1858. For a century and a half their exclusion from national and local government was shared by nonconformists and Roman Catholics, although these minorities were emancipated in 1818 and 1819, respectively. The insistence of the House of Lords on retaining the words "on the true faith of a Christian" in the parliamentary oath prevented Jews from sitting in parliament for almost 30 more years. Thus, before 1858 only converts or the descendants of converts were able to enter parliament or hold any state or municipal post. Nevertheless, the very fact that such men were permitted to sit in parliament testified to the fact that the bar was purely religious and not racial. Benjamin *Disraeli, for example, who was an active supporter of Jewish emancipation, was regarded as a Jew by many of his contemporaries and was the victim of social discrimination but not of any legal bars. In 1845 the Jewish Disabilities Removal Act allowed Jews to hold office in municipal government and two years later David *Salomons became an alderman of the City of London. In the same year Lionel de *Rothschild became the first Jew to be elected to parliament but was not allowed to take his seat. In 1851 Sir David Salomons was elected to parliament but was forcibly removed from the Commons Chamber after he had voted three times and even made a speech to explain his position. Eventually, a bill was passed in 1858 allowing each House to fix its own oath to be administered to a Jew; Lionel de Rothschild became the first Jewish member (but, incidentally, never made a speech). Lionel de Rothschild was one of eight Jewish mps in the Liberal Party during the 19th century; the others were Sir David Salomons, Sir Francis Goldsmid, Sir Frederick Goldsmid, Sir Julian *Goldsmid (who sat for 30 years and became speaker of the House of Commons), Sir John *Simon, Sir George *Jessel, who, as solicitor general in 1871, became the first Jewish minister in a British government, and Arthur *Cohen. The first Jewish Conservative member was Saul Isaac, elected in 1874, who was followed by Lionel Louis *Cohen and Henry de *Worms, who as Lord Pirbright was made parliamentary secretary to the board of trade and undersecretary of state for the colonies. Jews at first found the road to political advancement easier in the more progressive Liberal Party, but after Disraeli became prime minister, the Conservatives became the party of reform. Nevertheless, most Jewish politicians were to be found in the ranks of the Liberal Party, among them Herbert *Samuel who became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, postmaster general, home secretary, and the first Jewish cabinet minister in Britain. Others included Rufus Isaacs, Lord *Reading, who was Lord Chief Justice of England and later viceroy of India, and Edwin *Montagu who was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, minister of munitions, and secretary of state for India. The decline of the Liberal Party in the 1920s led many Jews to switch their allegiance to the growing Labor Party and a number of Jews sat in parliament, first in the Liberal cause and later as Labor members. Among them were Harry *Nathan, who was minister of civil aviation in the Labor government after World War ii, George Spero, and Barnett *Janner. Few Jews held important positions in the national governments of the 1930s, though a prominent exception was Leslie *Hore-Belisha, who was minister of war from 1937 to 1940. In the general election immediately after World War ii the number of Jewish Labor members of parliament rose from 4 to 26. Considerable influence was also wielded by Harold *Laski who was chairman of the Labor Party. Jewish mps from other parties were virtually eliminated, a notable exception being Phil Piratin (1907–1995), the only Jewish Communist in parliament in Britain. Jewish liberals were gradually eliminated by the failure of the party at elections while Jewish Conservative candidates tended to be passed over by the constituency associations, though Henry d'Avigdor *Goldsmid sat for many years in the Conservative interest and Sir Keith *Joseph became the first Jewish Conservative cabinet minister. Lord Reading had served in 1931 as foreign secretary in a national government and Leslie Hore-Belisha as a National Liberal in Conservative-dominated conditions. Several Jews became cabinet ministers in the Labor governments of 1945–51 and 1964–70. In the former Labor government under Clement *Attlee, Lewis *Silkin was minister of town and country planning; Emanuel *Shinwell was minister of fuel and power and secretary of state for war; Harry Nathan was minister of civil aviation; and George *Strauss was minister of supply. In the Labor government of 1964–70 there were more than 30 Jewish Labor mps and Jewish ministers included John *Diamond and Harold *Lever, who held senior posts at the Treasury, and John *Silkin), who was minister of public building and works. In addition, several Jewish members who never held ministerial posts had considerable influence on Labor policy, in particular Sydney *Silverman and Ian Mikardo (1908–1993). Nevertheless, Jews played little part as Jews in the formation of government policy and there was never a "Jewish vote" even on the Palestine question during the last days of the British Mandate. A few Jewish women played a part in Jewish parliamentary life. Marion Phillips (1881–1932) was the first Jewish woman member, while Barbara Ayrton Gould (c. 1890–1950) was chairman of the Labor Party (1939–40). Two Jewish women were returned to parliament in 1970, Renée Short (1919– ) for the Labor Party and Sally Oppenheim (1930– ) for the Conservatives. Four women were among the first ten Jews to be made life peers: Dora Gaitskell (1909–1989), Beatrice Serota (1919–2002), Alma Birk (1917–1996), and Beatrice Plummer (1903–1972). The government of Margaret *Thatcher brought about a reversal of the traditional affiliation of most active Anglo-Jewish politicians with the Left. From her accession in 1979 there were now many more Jewish Conservative mps than Laborites, with five Jews being members of her cabinet in the 1980s, among them the chancellor of the exchequer and the home secretary. Under her successor John Major, Sir Malcolm Rifkind served as foreign secretary. The Jewish presence in the Labor government of Tony Blair, which took office in 1997, has been much less marked. Michael *Howard became leader of the Conservative Party in 2003, stepping down at the end of 2005 after the Conservative election defeat.


Robert *Briscoe, who represented the Fianna Fail Party, was the only Jewish member of the Irish parliament from 1927. On his retirement in 1965 he was succeeded by his son, Benjamin.

[Vivian David Lipman]


Before the French Revolution of 1789 Jews had neither civil nor political rights and very few took part in French public affairs. They were granted civil rights in 1791 and from then onward no formal bars remained before their advancement in politics, though for many years they were not active in public affairs largely because of the exclusiveness of French society. One of the first Jews in politics in France was Benjamin David (1796–1879), who was elected deputy for the department of Deux-Sèvres in 1834 and became mayor of his native city of Niort in 1846. The first Jewish minister was the banker Michel *Goudchaux who led the opposition to King Louis Phillipe's economic policy and himself became minister of finance in 1848, shortly before the revolution of that year. The famous advocate, Isaac *Crémieux, was another prominent opponent of the regime who participated in the revolution and was briefly minister of justice. After the revolution Achille *Fould served as minister of finance until 1852 when he became a senator and then minister of state, the first Jew in France to hold these positions. His three sons, Ernest Adolphe, Edouard Mathurin, and Gustave Eugène, and his grandson Achille Charles (see *Fould family) were subsequently elected to the chamber of deputies. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 two Jews came to the fore. Camille *Sée became secretary general of the Ministry of Interior in the government of National Defense and Leo *Frankel, a Hungarian émigré, was minister of labor in the Paris Commune. Subsequently, Jewish politicians tended to support socialist or radical parties largely because the royalist and clerical groups tended to be antisemitic. Thus Camille Sée was a member of the Republican Party as was David *Raynal, who was minister of public works in Gambetta's ministry in 1881 and later minister of the interior. Nevertheless, Jews were not particularly prominent in French politics at the end of the 19th century and the antisemitic attacks during the *Dreyfus case were directed more against Jews in the professions generally than against Jews in public affairs. Following the turn of the century, however, an increasing number of Jews served in Clemenceau's war cabinet from 1917 to 1919: Georges *Mandel, who was chef de cabinet, Edouard Ignace (1864–1924), and Louis *Klotz, the latter serving as minister of finance. After the war Klotz was raised to the senate, Abraham *Schrameck, formerly governor of Madagascar, became minister of the interior and minister of justice, and Maurice Bokanowsky was minister of commerce and industry from 1926 to 1927. Thereafter, however, most Jewish politicians tended to represent socialist parties, a notable exception being Mandel who served in several non-socialist cabinets before the outbreak of World War ii and was minister of the interior until the fall of France. Salomon *Grumbach was a member of the Socialist Party central committee, Leon *Meyer was a Socialist minister of mercantile marine, and in 1936 Léon Blum became prime minister of France, the first Jew and the first Socialist to hold this post. Blum's cabinet included Jules *Moch as minister of public works and Jean Zay as minister of education. Blum was briefly prime minister of France after World War ii as were the Radical Socialist René *Mayer and the Radical leader Pierre *Mendès France. France was thereby the only European state in which three Jews held the post of prime minister, each representing a different shade of socialist policy. In addition, Moch, René Mayer, and the Socialist Party leader Daniel Mayer all held posts in postwar French coalition cabinets until the end of the Fourth Republic in 1958 and the return to power of General de Gaulle. Few Jews held positions of influence during De Gaulle's term of presidency from 1958 to 1969 but following the election of Georges Pompidou as president in June 1969 two Jews were appointed to ministerial posts, Maurice *Schumann, as minister of foreign affairs, and Leo *Hamon as secretary of state to the prime minister. In subsequent years Simone *Veil became the most prominent Jew in French politics, serving in numerous cabinets and becoming president of the European Parliament in 1979.

The main Jewish organizations continued to follow the old tradition of not giving any directions on how to vote. Constituting about 1 percent of the French electorate, they could only play an important role in specific localities such as Paris and Marseilles. On the basis of analyses of voting behavior, it is known that the Jewish vote is spread among all parties, while Jews are active within the machinery of every party.


Although individual Jews acted as Hoffaktoren and Hofjuden (*Court Jews) to monarchs in a number of German states during the 17th and 18th centuries, acting both as advisers and financial agents, Jews played no part in German national politics until the middle of the 19th century, and almost no part in government until the 20th. Jews who converted to Christianity, however, enjoyed full political rights and rose to high office. Thus, Friedrich Julius *Stahl became leader of the reactionary Conservative Party and a firm opponent of political emancipation for his former coreligionists. Other converted Jews who rose to high office included Martin Eduard von *Simson, president of the Reichstag, Heinrich von Friedberg (1813–1895), Prussian minister of justice, and Karl Rudolf Friedenthal (1827–1890), Prussian minister of agriculture under the Empire. The first professing Jew to hold a public position in Germany was David *Friedlaender who was elected to the Berlin municipal council in 1809. Not until the 1840s, however, did the Jews gain electoral rights, including the right to vote for the German National Assembly and to be elected to the Assembly or to state parliaments. Jews participated in the liberal revolution in 1848, and among the Jewish representatives to the National Assembly held in Frankfurt after the revolution were Moritz *Veit and Gabriel *Riesser, who was vice president of the Assembly. Both were staunch champions of Jewish emancipation as were Fischel *Arnheim, the only Jewish member of the Bavarian Diet and Johann *Jacoby, an early leader of the liberal movement. The German states finally removed all political restrictions from the Jews during the 1860s and after the unification of Germany (1871) they were granted legal equality in most spheres. Nevertheless, they were still effectively excluded from holding government office and with the exception of Moritz *Ellstaetter, minister of finance in Baden from 1888 to 1893, no unbaptized Jew held ministerial office. On the other hand, Jews were very active in political life, being among the leaders of the progressive political parties. They were particularly well represented among the liberals, whom the Jews tended to favor. Thus Eduard *Lasker was one of the founders of the National Liberal Party and was influential in framing the social legislation of his regime while his colleague Ludwig *Bamberger helped organize the state finances. Other Jewish politicians included Max Hirsch, the trade unionist and advocate of popular education, Leopold *Sonnemann, a leader of the Democratic Party, Ludwig *Loewe, a founder of the Progressive Party in North Germany, and Wolf *Frankenburger, leader of the Liberal Party in Bavaria.

Toward the end of the 19th century Jewish politicians became increasingly prominent in left-wing parties. At the same time the political allegiance of German Jewry was itself undergoing a process of radicalization, moving from moderate to progressive liberalism, and eventually to Socialism, with the upper strata of Jewish society retaining a traditional allegiance to liberalism. Thus Jews were very prominent in the leadership of the Socialist Party though they formed but a fraction of the electorate. The party itself was founded by Ferdinand *Lassalle who adopted the ideology of Karl *Marx and formed the General German Workers Association (adav) which was the forerunner of the German Social Democratic Party. The Social Democratic Party was later much influenced by Eduard *Bernstein, who called for a fundamental revision of Marxist doctrine arguing that the party should work for social reform rather than revolution, and by Rosa *Luxemburg, who advocated workers' control by revolution and led the abortive Communist rising at the end of 1918. After the outbreak of World War i the German Social Democratic Party split into two factions, the majority supporting the war while the minority opposing the war included a number of Jews, among them, Hugo *Haase, president of the German Social Democratic Party in the Reichstag, Bernstein, and Luxemburg.

The prominence of Jewish left-wing intellectuals in German political life was successfully exploited by the antisemites and right-wing parties and revolutionary socialism became identified with Jewry especially since the Soviet and Hungarian revolutions after World War i were led by Jews. In Germany, too, Jews rose to high office in the revolutionary ferment that followed the collapse of the German Empire at the end of 1918. Paul Hirsch (1868–1938) was briefly prime minister of Prussia, Kurt *Eisner headed the revolutionary government of Bavaria and Hugo Haase and Otto *Landsberg were two of the six people's commissars in the first postwar government. In addition Paul *Levi succeeded Rosa Luxemburg as head of the Communist Party and the Communists included many Jewish members, among them Ruth *Fischer and Gerhart *Eisler. During this period of the Weimar Republic there were no restrictions on Jews holding political posts and four Jews held high ministerial office. Hugo *Preuss, one of the drafters of the Weimar Constitution, became minister of the interior, Otto Landsberg was minister of justice, Walther *Rathenau was foreign minister, and Rudolf *Hilferding minister of finance. The Nazis deliberately overstated the importance of Jews in German politics, however, and condemned the Weimar Republic as being the hated Judenrepublik dominated by Jews.

Soon after the Nazis came to power in 1933 all political parties were banned except the Nazi Party from which Jews were excluded. Jewish politicians were either arrested or forced to leave the country. After World War ii a small number of Jews took part in German political life, among them Herbert *Weichmann who was president of the Bundesrat and Joseph Neuberger (1902–1977) who was minister of justice in North-Rhine-Westphalia. In East Germany the only figure of importance was Gerhart Eisler, who was for a time minister of information. Though for many years not a single professing Jew has been a member of the Bundestag, at the beginning of the 21st century there were a few well-known younger Jews active in political life, such as Michel Friedman for the Christian Democrats and Prof. Micha Brumlik for the Greens. Together with the late Ignatz *Bubis, a leading member of the Free Democrats, these most visible Jewish politicians all came from Frankfurt.


The first Jewish politicians in Holland represented William iii of Orange in international diplomatic negotiations. Thus Samuel Palecke was made representative of the king of Morocco in Holland, Isaac *Belmonte was agent-general of the king of Spain to the Netherlands, and several Jews were involved in his negotiations to secure the British crown. Jews were not active in Dutch internal Politics, however, until after their emancipation in 1795, following the conquest by France and the formation of the Batavian republic. In 1798 Jews were given the right to vote and be elected to state offices and two Jews, H.L. Bromet and H. de H. Lemon, were elected to the national assembly, being the first Jewish parliamentarians ever. Subsequently, two Jewish lawyers held high government posts, Moses Salomon *Asser who became a member of the legislative council and Jonas Daniel *Meyer who was appointed to the state council during the reign of Louis Napoleon. In the first half of the 19th century Jews were represented in the city councils of Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam, but they did not enter provincial and national politics again. These local Jewish politicians were seen as the representatives of their communities. After 1848, when the Netherlands became a constitutional monarchy, Jews entered the provincial and national political scenes as well. One of them, Michael *Godefroi, became minister of justice and Samuel *Sarphati became a leading campaigner for social reform. In the 19th century Jewish politicians were foremost active within the liberal parties and from the end of the century on in the socialist parties as well. Jews elected to the second chamber of parliament included Abraham Hartogh (1844–1901), Samuel van den *Bergh, Abraham *Wertheim and Joseph *Limburg (1866–1940), all of whom were members of the Liberal Party. In the 20th century two Jewish women were prominent in Dutch politics: Aletta *Jacobs (1854–1929) and Betsy *Bakker-Nort (1874–1946), both of whom championed the rights of women. Several Jewish socialists sat in Parliament, among them A.B. *Kleerekoper, Henri *Polak, Ben Sajet, and the Communist Party chairman, David *Wijnkoop. However, only two Jews were appointed to ministerial posts before World War ii besides Godefroi: Eduard van *Raalte, minister of justice at the beginning of the 20th century and Salomon Rodrigues de *Miranda who was socialist minister of housing in the 1930s. After World War ii two more Jewish ministers of justice held office, Ivo *Samkalden being appointed in 1956 and 1965 and Carel *Polak taking office in 1967. Other prominent Jewish politicians included the ministers Sidney van den *Bergh (1959), Aaron Pais (1977–981), Ed van Thijn (1981–82, 1994), and Hedy d'Ancona (1989–94). Within the Second Chamber the leader of the Socialist Party, Jacques Wallage, was prominent as well as the liberal chairman of the Second Chamber, Frans Weisglas. In the post-World War ii period Amsterdam had no fewer than four Jewish mayors: Ivo Samkalden (1967–77), Wim Polak (1977–83), Ed van Thijn (1983–94), and Job Cohen (from 2001).

[Bart Wallet (2nd ed.)]


In 1778 Jews were given the right to become members of municipal councils in Tuscany and this right was extended to other parts of Italy at the end of the century following the French invasion of Italy under Napoleon. Thus in 1796 the venerable oligarchic government of Venice was overthrown and a new municipality was elected that included three Jews: Moses *Luzzatto, Vita Vivante, and Isaac Grego. After the defeat of Napoleon at the hands of the Holy Alliance, Jews were deprived of their newly acquired civic equality and as a result actively supported the secret revolutionary forces, such as the Carbonari and Young Italy movements. In this respect Italy was the only 19th-century European state in which substantial elements of the Jewish population took up a political cause.

Following the outbreak of the 1848 Revolution, Jewish rights were restored in most parts of Italy and two Jews became ministers in the Venetian Republic, headed by the half-Jew Daniel Mantin: Leone Pincherle, minister of agriculture and commerce, and Isaac Maurogonato (1817–1892), minister of finance. In 1855 Isaac *Artom became private secretary to the Piedmontese prime minister Count Cavour and in the following year Sansone d'*Ancona became director of finance and public works in the government of Tuscany. When the reunification of Italy was completed in 1870, a number of Jews were members of the Italian parliament and by 1894 their numbers had increased to 15, representing a wide variety of political views. The number of Jewish deputies and senators never became large in proportion to the size of the Italian parliament but a number of Jews held important posts at the turn of the century. Luigi *Luzzatti served as minister of finance on several occasions and later became prime minister, the first Jew in modern times to achieve this distinction; Leone *Wollemborg was minister of finance for a short period in 1901, Guiseppe *Ottolenghi was minister of war from 1902 to 1903, and Ernesto *Nathan became mayor of Rome. The rise of Fascism after World War i virtually brought to an end Jewish involvement in Italian politics. Many Jews did support Mussolini at first but with the exceptions of Guido Jung, minister of finance (1932–35), and Aldo Finzi, who was assistant minister of the interior, none held important posts in his party or government and Jewish politicians of the left such as the socialist leaders Guiseppe Modigliani and Claudio *Treves (1869–1944) and the Communist Umberto *Terracini were systematically persecuted or forced into exile. When the Fascists became antisemitic in the late 1930s Jews were expelled from the Fascist Party, by then the only legal political party in Italy, and effectively excluded from all political activity. Political rights were restored to the Jews after World War ii but only Terracini, who became a leading Communist figure in the Italian senate, played a significant part in Italian politics in the early postwar period. In later years, two Italian Jews were elected to parliament: Bruno Zevi on the Radical ticket in 1987 and Enrico Modigliani, a Republican, in 1992. In 1992, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro was elected president of the Italian Republic only two months after having been named the first president of the newly formed Italy-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Association.

Muslim States


Jews played an important part in Turkish politics in the 16th century, a few Jews acting as ministers and financial advisers, among them Joseph *Nasi, Duke of Naxos, Solomon *Ashkenazi, and Esther *Kiera. The decline in the status of Turkish Jewry from the beginning of the 17th century led to the exclusion of Jews from public affairs, and civil rights were not granted to Turkish Jews until the middle of the 19th century. Exceptional were the *Picciotto family of merchants, five of whom, Hillel, Raphael, Ezra, Elijah, and Moses ben Ezra, were consuls for European powers in Aleppo. In 1876, Daniel *Carmona became the first Jew to serve in the Turkish Parliament and in 1899 Behor *Ashkenazi became the representative of Turkish Jewry in the Ottoman Parliament, later becoming vice prefect of Istanbul and a member of the senate. A few Jews joined the Young Turk movement at the beginning of the century, among them Haim *Nahoum who was appointed chief rabbi of Egypt when the Young Turks came to power. After World War ii Solomon Adato was the sole representative of Turkish Jewry in Parliament and after his death in 1953 he was succeeded by Henry Soviano.


Jews took little part in Egyptian affairs during the centuries that Egypt was under Turkish rule. One of the first Jews active in Egyptian politics in modern times was Joseph Aslan *Cattaui who worked with Sir Ernest *Cassel on engineering projects and was made pasha in 1912 and a member of the legislative assembly. He was appointed minister of finance and transport and later became a member of the senate. Other prominent Jews in Egyptian politics who were elected to the senate were Joseph *Picciotto, a leader of the Egyptian Zionist movement, and Cattaui's elder son, Cattaui Bey. Following full Egyptian independence after World War ii, Jews were made to suffer for the government's anti-Zionist policy and no Jews held positions in the government or parliament.


Few Jews were prominent in politics in Iraq either during Turkish rule or after independence but a few were elected to the Iraqi parliament where at one time seats were specifically reserved for candidates elected by the Jewish community. The first Jewish representative from Iraq in the Turkish parliament was Menahem ben Salaḥ *Daniel who was appointed in 1876. Sir Ezekiel *Sassoon was the first Iraqi delegate to the Turkish Parliament after the Young Turk revolution and from 1920 to 1925 was Iraqi minister of finance during the British protectorate.

Following Iraqi independence in 1924, three Jews were elected to the Iraqi lower house and Menahem ben Salaḥ Daniel, at the age of nearly 80, was appointed to the senate. On his retirement in 1935 he was succeeded by his son Ezra. The number of Jews representing Iraqi Jewry was raised to six and many prominent Jewish businessmen were active in politics. The anti-Zionist campaign after World War ii led to a change in government policy toward Iraqi Jewry. The right of separate Jewish representation in parliament was abolished and Jews were deprived of civil rights. Following the death of Ezra Daniel in 1952 no Jews sat in the Iraqi parliament.


Jews were prominent in Moroccan state affairs during the reign of the Marinids (1269–1465). Two members of the Roggasa (or Waqqasa) family were influential ministers and toward the end of the dynasty *Aaron ben Batash was prime minister. In the 17th century Abraham Maimaran and Moses *Atar were ministers and advisors to King Mulay Ishmael. In the 18th century Samuel *Sumbal was advisor to the sultan on foreign affairs and his son Joseph Ḥayyim was Moroccan ambassador to London. Several members of the *Corcos family were advisors on financial and foreign affairs to five successive sultans during the 19th century, and Meir Macnin was ambassador to London. However, wealthy Jews no longer held a prominent place in state affairs during the period of the French Protectorate (1912–56). Following Moroccan independence in March 1956, Leon *Benzaquen was made minister of posts and David Benazeraf became a member of the advisory council. Growing Muslim nationalism acted as a brake on Jewish political activity from July 1957 to 1961 but after the accession of King Hassan ii Jews once again held representative posts, David Amar as a senator and Meyer Obadia and Jacob Banon as members of the National Assembly.


Although Jews held powerful economic and political positions in Tunisia in the Middle Ages, Jews were deprived of all their rights in the 16th century. Nevertheless, members of the Cohen-Tanudji family were advisors on foreign affairs to the bey and in the 19th century Abraham Belaish and Nessim *Samama were finance ministers. Several members of the *Valensi family were statesmen and one was Tunisian minister of war. In the 20th century Jews tended to support the French administration and many fought in the French army in World War i. Later many Jews joined the Zionist movement and some were active in the nationalist Destour Party, among them Albert *Bessis who was made minister of public works in the Tunisian cabinet upon independence and André Barrouch who was appointed to the cabinet on Bessis' resignation. The anti-Zionist campaign at the end of the 1950s led to Barrouch's resignation and a sudden decline in Jewish involvement in politics. Following the mass emigration from Tunisia in the 1960s, Jews ceased to take any part in Tunisian politics.


Until the end of the 18th century Jews played no part in public life in Poland. Their interests were bound up with those of the Polish Jewish community as a whole and in any case they were granted no civil rights in Polish society. The decline in the cohesion of the Jewish community, however, led to increasing involvement of the Jews in the large cities in Polish affairs and after the partition of Poland and the outbreak of the French Revolution a number of Jews joined the insurrection against the Russians in 1794, among them Berek *Joselewicz who commanded a force of 500 Jews in the defense of Warsaw. Nevertheless, though Jews fought in the army of Napoleon, they were not granted political rights in the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, nor, after 1815, when the Russians regained control over most of Poland. During the Polish insurrections of 1830 and 1831 Jews were again prominent as supporters of the revolutionary cause and following the suppression of the insurrection, Stanislaus Hernisz Ludwig Lubliner and Leon Hollandaerski were leaders of the group of émigré Polish leaders agitating abroad for Polish independence. In the 1860s Rabbi Dov Ber *Meisels, chief rabbi of Warsaw, organized the Jewish community's support for the Polish nationalist movement. He was arrested by the czarist authorities for closing the Warsaw synagogues as an act of solidarity with the Catholic leaders who closed the churches in defiance of the authorities. Meisel's funeral in 1870 was the occasion for a mass demonstration of Polish national feeling. Other Jewish revolutionary leaders were Henry K *Wohl who became head of a department in the insurgent government of 1863 and was later arrested and imprisoned and Bernhard *Goldman. Toward the end of the century a number of Jewish intellectuals joined the Social-Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania, one of whose founders was Rosa *Luxemburg. The party's leaders included Herman *Diamand, Feliks *Kon, Herman *Lieberman, Adolf *Warski-Warszawski, and Boleslaw *Drobner, the last being among the many Jews to take part in the anti-czarist uprisings between 1905 and 1907. Following the granting of universal suffrage in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the establishment of the Duma in Russia, Polish Jews were allowed to vote for and to be elected to the Austro-Hungarian Reichsrat and the Russian Duma. Herman Lieberman and Herman Diamond were elected to the Reichsrat in 1917 as representatives from Galicia and several Jews stood as candidates for the Duma. None was successful, however, largely because they attracted the Jewish vote only and also because they were officially opposed by the authorities. Furthermore in the elections to the fourth Duma, the Jews supported the Polish Socialist Party candidate en masse and this led to an organized boycott of Jewish traders in protest. After the outbreak of World War i, Jews ceased to play any part in politics in Russian Poland even after the Central Powers occupied the territory. Nevertheless Jewish representatives from Galicia sat in the Austro-Hungarian Reichsrat.

Following the declaration of Polish independence at the end of World War i the Polish government concluded a minorities treaty granting full equality to the Jews and other minorities and the provisions of the treaty were incorporated in the Polish constitution. In the first Sejm of 1922, 45 Jews were elected, six of them being elected to the senate. Jews represented Zionist parties, the non-Zionist Agudat Israel and the Polish Socialist Party, the last being the only non-Jewish political party which was not antisemitic. Most of the Jewish members of the chamber of deputies joined together to form a Jewish parliamentary club ("Kolo") headed initially by the Zionist leader Yitzḥak *Gruenbaum and were mainly concerned with attempting to improve the social and political condition of the Jews in the face of government-inspired antisemitism. Jewish Socialists, of whom Herman Lieberman and Boleslaw Drobner were among the leaders of the party, were more concerned with general Polish politics. In 1925 the Jewish club agreed to support the government on condition that the government acted to improve the condition of the Jews. However, when it became clear that the government had no intention of fulfilling its side of the bargain, most of the Jewish members rejoined the Socialists in opposition. Government policy became increasingly antisemitic and during the 1930s the number of Jews in the Sejm dwindled to seven and many of the Jewish Socialist leaders were imprisoned or exiled, among them Herman Lieberman who led the opposition to the government, Isaac *Schwarzbart and the Polish communist leaders Roman *Zambrowski and Adolf Warski-Warszawski.

The destruction of Poland on the outbreak of World War ii and the Nazi Holocaust did not result in the end of political activity among Polish Jews. Adolf *Berman cooperated with left-wing political groups in Warsaw and fought in the Warsaw uprising of 1944. Herman Lieberman was briefly a member of the Polish government in exile in London and a number of Polish Jews who fled to the Soviet Union in 1939 held important position in the Soviet-sponsored Union of Polish Patriots and the Polish army in the U.S.S.R., among them Eugeniusz *Szyr, Stefan Wierblowski, Roman Zambrowski, Hilary *Minc, Jacob *Berman, and Drobner. On the formation of the Polish Committee of National Liberation in 1944, Drobner was made minister of labor and social care, the first Jew to hold a portfolio in a Polish government.

The liberation of Poland at the end of World War ii led to the formation of a Provisional Government of National Unity in which the Communist Party with its prominent Jewish members played a key part. All discrimination against Jewish politicians ceased and when the pro-Communist Socialists merged with the Communists into the Polish United Workers Party, Boleslav Bierut became head of the party with two Jews, Jacob Berman and Hilary Minc, as close colleagues, the latter serving as minister of commerce and later as vice premier. Berman and Minc were, like Bierut, loyal supporters of Stalin and included several other Jewish Stalinists in the government and party, among them Szyr, Starewicz, and Wierblowski, and Julius *Katz-Suchy. Following the death of Bierut, however, and the rise to power of Wladyslaw Gomulka, Berman and later Minc were forced to resign. In the 1960s Zambrowski and Szyr held important party posts but the former was dismissed during the government-inspired antisemitic campaign of 1968 in which a number of Jews holding lesser positions were also forced to resign. By 1971, two Jews were left in the government – Szyr as deputy prime minister and Edward Sznajder, minister for home trade.


As early as 1783 Jews were given the right to hold municipal office in Belorussia. The right was extended to all parts of Russia in 1835 but was later limited to western Russia, where most Jews lived, so that Jews could not be elected as mayors or municipal chairmen, nor could they constitute more than a third of the number of municipal councilors even in areas where Jews constituted a majority of the inhabitants. Jews were thus prevented from playing an influential part in municipal affairs while they were completely excluded from national politics by the very nature of the autocratic and antisemitic czarist rule. As a result, many Jews, particularly among the secularly educated, joined or supported the illegal revolutionary organizations that sprung up in the 1870s. Their number included Pavel *Axelrod, Aaron Zundelevich, and O. Aptekman (see *Socialism). The abolition in 1882 of the right to vote for local councils or to be elected to them added impetus to the Jewish opposition to the regime. Several Jews were founders of the Narodniki (Populists) and of the Social Democratic Party (among them Axelrod and Lev Deutsch), both of which groups received wide support in Jewish assimilationist or semi-assimilationist circles. Most Jews, however, remained in purely Jewish frameworks; they were Orthodox, Zionists, or joined the *Bund. The failure of Nicholas ii to make any substantial reforms brought about a resumption of revolutionary activity at the turn of the century. Jews held leading positions in the Social Democratic Workers Party but when the party split in 1903, most of the Jewish members, among them members of the Bund, joined the Menshevik group under Julius *Martov, among them Fyodor *Dan, Raphael *Abramowitz, and Grinevich, who from 1905 to 1917 was chairman of the All-Russian Council of Trade Unions. Jews were also prominent in two other political parties, the Socialist Revolutionary Party, which continued the heritage of the Populists, and the liberal Union of Liberation. The Socialist Revolutionary Party, formed in 1902, appealed mainly to the peasants as the Social Democrats appealed to the industrial workers. Its leaders included Chaim *Zhitlovsky, Grigori *Gershuni, and Mikhail Gots. The Union of Liberation was a radical liberal group who drew their support from the urban professional classes and attracted Jewish professionals such as the lawyers Maxim *Vinaver and Henry *Sliosberg. When the abortive 1905 revolution led to the setting up of the first *Duma, the Union of Liberation, called Kadet (short name for the Constitutional Democratic Party), formed the largest single political group, their 179 members including nine Jews. However, owing to changes in electoral law during the period of reaction, the party's strength in the later Dumas declined, and there was also a decline in representation of the small Jewish parties (Zionists, Folkspartei, Jewish People's Group, and Jewish Democratic Group), whereas Jewish socialists were not elected at all. The outbreak of revolution in February 1917 brought the immediate abolition of all restrictions against Jews, and four Jews from the Kadet and Menshevik groups were offered posts in Kerensky's provisional government, M. *Vinaver, L.M. Bramson, Fyodor Dan, and M.I. Liber. All refused on the grounds that the time was not yet ripe for Jews to enter a Russian government. On the other hand, A. Galperin was secretary of the provisional government and later Mark Vishniak became secretary of the Constituent Assembly, which was dispersed by force by the Bolshevik Soviet government


In Lenin's first Soviet government Jews were prominently represented, not only among the Bolsheviks (e.g., *Trotsky, *Zinoviev, *Kamenev, *Sverdlov) but also among their left Socialist-Revolutionary partners in the short-lived coalition (e.g., the people's commissar for justice, Isaac *Steinberg). Jews were also strongly represented in republican and local soviets and in all echelons of the ruling party hierarchy. Some Jewish politicians in areas densely populated by Jews, and during the first stages of the *Birobidzhan experiment particularly those engaged in *Yevsektsiya work, could be regarded Jewish representatives, since they communicated mainly with the Jewish population or represented its interests. This situation changed quickly in the 1930s. The Yevsektsiya itself was closed down in 1930 and with the purges of the later 1930s most leading Jewish Bolsheviks were imprisoned and liquidated, together with other members of the Old Guard. Simultaneously, the last shreds of Jewish regional and cultural autonomy disappeared and the Birobidzhan experiment, as a "nascent Jewish republic," was practically abandoned. Prominent exceptions were Lazar *Kaganovich, a close associate of Stalin, and Maxim *Litvinoff, people's commissar for foreign affairs. During and after World War ii, very few Jews remained in the Soviet top leadership. Under Stalin only Kaganovich was a member of the ruling circle and when Khrushchev assumed personal leadership in 1957 Kaganovich was declared a member of a subversive "anti-party group" and disappeared. No other Jew ever became a member of the policy-making bodies of the party, particularly the Politburo, which is the real government of the country. In 1962 the Jewish economist Venyamin *Dymshyts was appointed one of the six deputies of Soviet prime minister Khrushchev and put at the head of the central planning body Gosplan, but the post was without much political significance. Jews also practically disappeared from the middle and lower party hierarchy and the number of Jews in the representative organs of central and local government (both houses of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. as well as the republican, regional, and local soviets) declined rapidly. By 1970 it was much below the percentage of the Jews in the total population, not only of the cities (where 95% of the Jews live) but even of the population at large. In the new Russia, after the fall of Communism, the so-called Jewish oligarchs achieved political influence in a cozy relationship with President Boris Yeltsin, but fell out of favor with his successor, Vladimir Putin.

[Binyamin Eliav]

South Africa

Although Jews first settled in South Africa in the beginning of the 19th century, for many years they played little part in South African politics. An exception was Benjamin *Norden, one of five brothers who emigrated from England in 1820 and became a municipal commissioner (city councilor) in Cape Town in 1840. Norden was narrowly defeated in the elections to the Cape parliament. Saul *Solomon was elected to the Cape parliament in 1854, 20 years after he and his brother Henry had converted to Christianity. He and Simeon *Jacobs, who was elected in 1866, campaigned for the separation of Church and State in Cape Colony. Four other Jews were elected to the parliament of Cape Colony, Julius and Joseph Mosenthal, Ludwig Henry Goldenschmidt, and Ludwig Wiener. Jews were also among the pioneers of some of the other South African colonies. One of the first settlers in Natal was Nathaniel *Isaacs who unsuccessfully canvassed a treaty between the Zulu monarch and the British crown as the basis for the European settlement of Natal. Another was Jonas Bergtheil, who emigrated to South Africa in 1834 and became the first Jewish member of the Natal legislative council. In the Orange Free State, Isaac Baumann, who arrived in South Africa from Germany in 1840, became chairman of the municipal board of Bloemfontein, and Adolphe Coqui, an immigrant from Belgium, negotiated the establishment of republican government for the Orange Free State after Britain announced that she was terminating her sovereignty over the territory. A third Jewish personality in the early days of the Orange Free State was Moritz Leviseur, who was elected to the provincial parliament in 1905 and became mayor of Bloemfontein in 1906. Leviseur was elected to the Union of South Africa parliament in 1921. The first Jewish parliamentarian in the Transvaal (Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek) was M de Vries, a Dutch immigrant who was chairman of the Transvaal Volksraad (Parliament), 1872–73.

The discovery of diamonds and gold brought a number of Jews to prominence in South African politics. Barney *Barnato became a member of the Transvaal parliament and a personal friend of President Paul Kruger. Barnato did not commit himself in the Anglo-Boer dispute but his nephew Solly *Joel became a member of the reform committee which organized the Jameson raid. Barnato's cousin, Sir David *Harris, took Barnato's seat in the Cape parliament after the latter's death. He was one of six Jews elected to the first Union parliament in 1910, the others being Morris *Alexander, who was a member for over 30 years, Emile Nathan, Sir Lionel Phillips, C.P. Robinson, and Sammy *Marks, a member of the senate. Subsequent Jewish members of the Union parliament included Morris *Kentridge, the first Jewish Labor member of parliament, who sat continuously from 1924 to 1958, Leopold *Lovell, Hyman Davidoff, Sam Kahn – the first Jewish communist mp, who was unseated in 1952 following the Suppression of Communism Act, Bertha *Solomon, who advocated the cause of women's rights in parliament and initiated the Matrimonial Affairs Act of 1953, Abe Bloomberg and Charles Barnett. Jewish senators included: Franz Ginsberg, Fritz Baumann Adler, Alfred Friedlander, Hyman Basner, and Leslie Rubin. The 36-year parliamentary career of Helen *Suzman commenced in the Union Parliament in 1953 and continued after South Africa became a Republic in 1961. In 1959 she was a co-founder of the Progressive Party, which opposed the government's apartheid policy, and was the sole Progressive elected in the elections of 1961, 1966, and 1970. Other prominent Jewish parliamentarians after 1961 included Harry *Schwarz (1974–89), Ruth Rabinowitz (representing the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party from 1994), Ben Turok, and Tony *Leon (from 1989), who became Leader of the Opposition Democratic Party (later Democratic Alliance) after the 1999 elections. Four Jews have served as cabinet ministers. They are Henry *Gluckman, who served as minister of health in the *Smuts cabinet from 1945 to 1948, Louis *Shill (minister for national housing and of public works, 1993–94), Joe *Slovo (minister of housing, 1994–95), and Ronnie *Kasrils (minister of water affairs and forestry, 1999–2004, and from 2004 minister of intelligence). Two Jews have served as deputy cabinet ministers, Ronnie *Kasrils (deputy minister of defense, 1994–99) and Gill Marcus (deputy minister of finance, 1996–99).

South America

Before World War ii Jews were not generally active in politics in South America, although in most South American states there were no legal bars to their entering parliament. They were handicapped by the fact that most were immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe and by deep-rooted antisemitism in many of the Catholic states. Nevertheless, a few Jews did achieve considerable prominence in political life. One of the first was Horacio *Lafer who was appointed Brazilian delegate to the League of Nations in 1928. He was a member of the Federal Chamber of Deputies from 1934 to 1964 and served as minister of finance and foreign minister in postwar Brazilian governments. Another important figure was Angel Faivovich *Hitzcovich who was elected to the Santiago municipal council in 1935. During a 30-year political career he was president of the Chilean Radical Party and vice president of the senate. The number of Jews in politics gradually increased after World War ii, particularly in Argentina where the Jewish population was at one time over half a million. Several Jews represented the Argentine Radical Party (Union Civica Radical Intransigente) in the Chamber of Deputies, among them Santiago Nudelman, David *Blejer, who was undersecretary to the ministers of the interior and of labor, Isaac Breyter, David *Schapira, and Naum Jaroslavsky. Enrique Dickman and Adolfo Dickman were prominent socialist deputies. Few Jews were prominent in Argentine politics during the rule of the dictator Domingo Peron but an exception was Jose Alexenicer who was head of Peron's "Justice" Party in Cordoba and a member of the provincial parliament. In Chile, Miguel *Schweitzer, was minister of labor, and several other Jews were elected to the Chamber of Deputies. Among them were Jacobo Schaulson *Numhauser who was president of the Chamber of Deputies, and Daniel *Schweitzer, both of whom served as Chilean delegates to the United Nations. There were also two Jewish communist deputies in Chile, Adolfo Berman and Volodia Teitelbaum. Jews were also elected to parliament in Brazil where Marcos Melzer and Aarao Steinbruch sat in the Chamber of Deputies, while in Uruguay Jacobo *Guelman was a member of the senate as was Benazar *Serfaty in Venezuela. In Panama Max *Delvalle became first vice president of Panama and was president for two months in 1968 following a controversial decision of the National Assembly to remove the constitutional president. He thus became the only Jew ever to become president of a state (outside of Israel).

In South America in general, both the Foreign Office and the army remained almost closed to Jews, and the few Jewish ambassadors who served owed their appointment to personal friendships with the president in office.

In Argentina, after the establishment of a democratic regime in 1983, Raúl Alfonsín, a progressive and charismatic president, opened the doors to Jews: Bernardo Grinspun became minister of the economy and Mario Brodersohn district secretary; Adolfo Gass obtained a seat in the Senate, Marcelo Stubrin and César Jaroslavsky (the latter, head of the district bank) entered the Chamber of Deputies, and Jacobo Fiterman, ex-president of the Argentinean Zionist Organization, became secretary of public works in the Buenos Aires municipality. In the field of education and culture, traditionally a Catholic enclave, Marcos Aguinis became minister of national culture. Manuel Sadosky was minister of science. Under Menem additional Jews served in government: Moisés Ikonicoff (minister of planning), Enrique Kaplan (director of protocol), Néstor Perl (governor of Chubut), and Carlos Corach (presidential adviser).

In Brazil, before the Parliament was dissolved in 1968, six Jews representing various parties were elected to the federal legislature in the 1966 parliamentary elections. There were also Jewish politicians in the state legislatures and city councils. Horacio *Lafer was a leading Jewish political figure and served as finance minister and foreign minister of Brazil. A former federal deputy, Aarão *Steinbruch, was elected senator, the first Jew to be elected to that prestigious post. Under the government of Fernando Collor de Melo (1990–92, when the president was politically impeached), Celso Lafer was minister of foreign affairs. In the two terms of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1994 to 1998 and 1998 to 2002) numerous members of the Jewish community took an active part in the government.

[Paul Link /

Efraim Zadoff and

Roney Cytrynowicz (2nd ed.)]

United States

At the turn of the 21st century American Jews play an outsized role in American politics, representing a dramatic change from earlier eras. For example, when the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica was published in the early 1970s, the section on United States politics cited three "facts in connection with Jews in American politics":

1) "Jews have not been prominent as political office holders, political appointees or party leaders";

2) "Jews have never expressly organized themselves for solely political purposes…. They were at pains to deny the existence of Jewish political interests";

3) "…[S]upport for liberal and left of center parties and candidates is proportionally higher among Jews…."

By 2006 two of the three "facts" were no longer facts. First, the American Jewish community in the last third of the 20th century became the most highly politicized ethnic/religious groups in America. As a result, during the first decade of the 21st century the Jewish community is highly over-represented among political opinion leaders – including such groups as major donors to the political parties, elected federal officials, political journalists, political consultants, and high-level political appointees. Second, Jewish organizations have become quite adept at trying to organize the community for political purposes, and most are not reluctant to speak about Jewish political interests.

The third fact of 1972 – the community's allegiance to liberal and left of center parties and candidates – remains true today. The Jewish community continues to strongly back the Democratic Party and its candidates. This remains true despite dramatic demographic changes in the community in 80 years; despite dramatic changes in Jewish public opinion between the early 1920s and the first decade of the 21st century; and despite the fact that the Democratic and Republican parties of the 1920s were entirely different from what they are today.

It is exceedingly difficult to reconstruct the political behavior of American Jews in the earliest days of the Republic – the Jewish community was tiny (2,000 people or .038% of the U.S. population in 1800), and historical Jewish voting data for this period is nonexistent. However, one can assume that most American Jews during the period were Jeffersonian or Jacksonian Democrats. In the first few decades after the adoption of the Constitution there were a handful of Jewish officeholders, all of whom were Democratic-Republicans (the earliest name for the Democratic Party). Jews were among the earliest leaders of the pro-Jeffersonian Tammany Hall, and an early 19th century speaker of the Pennsylvania House was a Jewish Jeffersonian. Probably the best-known Jewish politician of the age, Mordecai *Noah, started his career as a Democratic-Republican (he was appointed U.S. consul to Tunis by President Madison) and was an early supporter of President Jackson as well. Moreover, there is evidence that the Federalist Party used overtly antisemitic rhetoric in the hard-fought 1800 presidential elections as a means of attacking Thomas Jefferson's candidacy.

Between 1840 and 1860, the Jewish population grew from 15,000 (.09% of the population) to 150,000 (less than .5% of the population) largely because of immigration from German-speaking parts of Europe. In this era, Whigs (and by the late 1850s, Republicans) battled Democrats for political supremacy. There is anecdotal material that points to some Jewish support for the Whig party of Henry Clay – especially by the older Sephardi community. However, most of what is known about the period indicates that a majority Jews of this era were Democrats. Of the five Jews who served in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1840s and 1850s, four were Democrats and one (the first Jewish Congressman, Lewis *Levin) was a member of the anti-Catholic American Party. Of the two Jewish U.S. senators who served in the same period, one – David *Yulee – was a Democrat. The other Jewish senator of the period, Judah *Benjamin (who went on to serve in the Confederate Cabinet), was elected in 1853 as a Whig and re-elected in 1859 as a Democrat. The Rothschilds' agent in America, Augustus *Belmont, was appointed chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1860 by Stephen Douglas and continued to serve as the chairman until 1872. As late as 1860, an Illinois state Jewish legislator who was helping Abraham Lincoln in his presidential campaign wrote about the Jews of New York as a constituency that had been voting 2–1 Democratic.

The roughly three-decade period from 1860 until 1896 was an intensely partisan era, which is usually characterized as the third American party system. In that era the country was evenly divided geographically – the south overwhelmingly Democratic and New England and the upper Midwest overwhelmingly Republican. At least one prominent political scientist has concluded that starting with Lincoln in 1860, American Jews swung their support over to the new Republican Party. Again, Jewish voting data is scarce for this period, and it appears as if the truth is a bit more complicated.

The Jewish population continued to grow, especially in New York City. By 1890 there were 475,000 Jews in America, representing 0.67% of the total population. There is evidence that in Midwestern cities like Chicago, the Jewish community began voting Republican by the 1860s. Many German Jews were attracted to the gop but the newer Yiddish-speaking Jews probably did not have strong party loyalties. Meanwhile, the Jews of the South remained Democratic and the city with the largest Jewish population – New York – remained a largely Democratic stronghold in the latter half of the 19th century.

There were a few prominent Jewish political leaders in the period – men like Abe Reuf, the powerful Republican Party boss in San Francisco, and Oscar *Straus, who served as President Cleveland's minister to Turkey. Fourteen Jews served in Congress during this period. They included nine Democrats and five Republicans. A review of a larger database of 60 known Jewish officeholders during this period reveals a close partisan split between Democrats and Republicans.

In the first decade of the 21st century, Americans are used to an ideologically congruent party system – a reliably liberal Democratic Party and a reliably conservative Republican one. But this was not the case in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the first 60 years after the Constitution was ratified, it can be argued that the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democrats with their more egalitarian views on white manhood suffrage were more liberal than their Federalist and Whig opponents. By the time of the Civil War, however, the Democrats were largely the party of states rights and support for slavery. And in the years after the Civil War both parties supported economic policies that were pro-business. Thus Jewish support for one party or the other prior to the 1920s cannot be attributed to liberal or conservative proclivities of the community.

The election of 1896 ushered in a 35-year period of national dominance of the Republican Party. The minority Democratic Party in this era was made up of rural populists in the west and south and a few urban machines, like New York's Tammany Hall. This was also a period in which the Jewish community grew exponentially as poor Yiddish-speaking Jews from the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires streamed into Ellis Island. By 1920 there were 3.15 million Jews in America – three percent of the total population – and in New York State the Jewish population became the key swing vote in city- and statewide elections. It is also during this period that one can start tracking the voting behavior of heavily Jewish voting districts.

Former Jewish Democratic businessmen like Oscar Straus (who was appointed the first Jewish cabinet official by Teddy Roosevelt) became Republicans in reaction to the populism of William Jennings Bryan. The newer and more numerous immigrant voters did not have strong partisan attachments. Sometimes they voted for Eugene Debs' new Socialist Party, and two Jewish Socialists were elected to Congress – Meyer London in New York and Victor *Berger in Wisconsin. Sometimes these immigrants voted for reform politicians (often these reformers were wasp-Republican politicians) in reaction to the graft of urban political machines. Sometimes these Jewish newcomers turned against wasp reformers who advocated Sunday blue laws and voted the machine politicians back into office. It is clear that in presidential elections, American Jews strongly backed Republicans Teddy Roosevelt in 1904 and Warren Harding in 1920, and more narrowly backed Democrat Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916.

From 1896 through 1930, 15 Jewish Republicans, 15 Jewish Democrats, and two Jewish Socialists served in Congress. Two Jewish Democrats were elected governor in the west – Simon *Bamberger in Utah and Moses *Alexander in Idaho – and President Wilson appointed the "people's attorney," Louis D. *Brandeis, as the first Jewish Supreme Court justice in 1916.

Most people attribute the modern Jewish community's attachment to the liberal policies of the Democratic Party to the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, the beginnings of this Democratic trend began a decade earlier in 1922. In 1920, Jews (as well as the rest of the country) voted overwhelmingly Republican in reaction to disillusionment with Wilson's Treaty of Versailles and a series of economic recessions. In the Congress that convened in 1921 there were 11 Jewish congressmen – 10 Republicans and one Socialist (in New York five Republican Jews and one Socialist were elected).

In 1922 former New York Governor Al Smith ran to avenge his defeat of 1920, and in winning he carried the Jewish vote overwhelmingly. Though Smith was a supporter of Tammany Hall, unlike many Tammany politicians he supported progressive labor legislation like the eight-hour day, and he opposed many of New York's blue laws. This was the perfect combination for New York State Jews, which at the time accounted for one-half of American Jewry. In the Congress, which convened in 1923 there were 10 Jewish congressman – four Republicans, five Democrats, and one Socialist. In New York State only one Jewish Republican survived, and four new Democrats were elected. From 1922 onward New York Democratic candidates were usually in the mold of Al Smith and Senator Robert Wagner – progressive reformers who ran with Tammany support – and the Jewish vote increasingly solidified as a Democratic bloc.

In 1928 the national Jewish vote split 72–28 in favor of Al Smith, the first non-Protestant (he was Roman Catholic) to run for president. In 1932 FDR carried the Jewish vote with 82%. In his first re-election he carried 85%, in his second re-election he carried 90%, and in 1944 he won 90% of the Jewish vote. Between 1948 and 1968 Democrats captured between 60% and 90% of the Jewish vote in each presidential election.

Jewish voting for Democrats at the state and national levels was perfectly understandable in the 1920s and 1930s. The New York Democrats and increasingly the national Democratic party was the party of liberalism, economic populism, and the "little guy." The Jewish population of the 1920s and 1930s was overwhelmingly poor and working class. However, after World War ii the Jewish population was increasingly middle class and highly educated. Yet at the state and national levels, Republican candidates could not secure a respectable Jewish vote. Only at the municipal level could Republican candidates like Mayor Fiorello La Guardia win a majority of Jewish voters.

Another development in this period was the rising importance of "reform" political clubs in cities like New York and Los Angeles. Though there were few Jewish professional politicians (Chicago's political boss Jake Avery was one of the exceptions) in this era, the amateur reformers became increasingly important in Democratic politics, and a disproportionate share of these reform leaders were Jewish. The other arena where Jews came to prominence was in the labor union movement. Sidney *Hillman was the most prominent of these labor leaders. In 1944, Hillman – as the head of the cio's Political Action Committee – acted as one of FDR's most trusted political allies.

Between 1932 and 1970, a number of Jewish Americans became prominent at the highest levels of American politics. In the Senate five Jews served during this era – the most prominent being former Governor *Lehman of New York and Jacob *Javits of New York. Jews also became increasingly common as presidential cabinet officers – Henry *Morgenthau, Jr. in fdr's cabinet; Lewis *Strauss in Eisenhower's cabinet; Arthur *Goldberg and Abraham *Ribicoff, the sons of Jewish immigrants, not German-Jews, in the cabinet of Irish American John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic elected president; and Wilbur *Cohen, who served under President Johnson. Moreover, during this period presidents appointed Felix *Frankfurter, Benjamin *Cardozo, Arthur Goldberg, and Abe *Fortas to the highest court in the land. There was a tradition of a Jewish seat on the Court.

Though there were well-known Jewish personalities in the public arena in mid-20th century America, in 1950 politics was not considered a Jewish profession. Fifty years later American politics was a decidedly Jewish occupation.

In the last third of the 20th century, very significant changes took place in the role that Jewish Americans played in the political process. In 2005 Jews represented something less than 2% of the U.S. population. Yet in the same year they represented 11% of the U.S. Senate. In 1970 14 Jews were elected to the U.S. Congress; in 2004, 37 were elected. By the first decade of the 21st century Jewish Americans were significantly represented among the top political appointees and senior civil servants in the elite agencies of the U.S. government. At the same time a substantial proportion of top political journalists and nationally prominent political consultants (a new profession which largely replaced the political boss in American politics) were Jewish. Perhaps equally important, both major political parties (but particularly the Democrats) and their candidates for office were heavily reliant on contributions from Jewish Americans to help fund their election year expenditures.

This increase in the political roles played by Jewish Americans was complemented by a change in how Jewish Americans were "accepted" in American society. In the 1930s, Jewish Americans were subjected to some of the worst antisemitism in American history. In that decade Ivy League colleges and medical schools had strict quotas on Jewish enrollment, and at the same time many law firms and corporate management slots were strictly off-limits to American Jews. In 1937 the Gallup Poll found that only 46% of Americans were willing to vote for a Jewish candidate for president. By the 1970s most of these barriers to Jews in American life were gone, and by 1999 – according to Gallup – fully 92% of Americans were willing to vote for a Jewish candidate for president.

The list of Jewish Americans who rose to prominence on the American political scene in the last 40 years is so large that it is only possible to highlight the most famous in an article of this size. In the early 1970s Robert *Strauss was chair of the dnc, and between 1997 and 2005 three Jews (two Democrats and one Republican) were national party chairs. Richard Nixon appointed perhaps the most prominent secretary of state of the 20th century, Henry *Kissinger, in his second term. President Gerald Ford had two Jewish Americans in his cabinet. President Jimmy Carter, despite his periodic disputes with the organized Jewish community, appointed three Jews to his cabinet. President Clinton appointed five Jews to his cabinet, and there were at least as many Jewish appointees who held cabinet-rank positions. Moreover, both of Clinton's Supreme Court appointments – Ruth Bader *Ginsburg and Stephen *Breyer – were Jewish. As of 2005 President Bush had one Jewish American in his cabinet, but the director of his Office of Management and Budget and numerous senior White House and subcabinet appointees were Jews.

Some observers describe the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board as the second most powerful person in the world. From 1987 to 2006, that position was held by Alan *Greenspan. His successor, chosen by President Bush in 2005, was another Jewish American, Ben S. (Shalom) Bernanke. But perhaps the most widely-known Jewish political figure at the turn of the 21st century was Senator Joseph *Lieberman. In August of 2000, Vice President Al Gore picked Lieberman as his vice presidential running mate. This was the first time in history that a Jewish American had been on the presidential ticket of a major American political party. Despite the concern of some that America was not ready for a Jewish president or vice president, Lieberman was widely credited with running a good campaign and was seen as an overall asset to the Democratic ticket that year. He began his acceptance speech as nominee with the proto-typical American Jewish phrase "only in America."

Not only did the doors of opportunity open for Jewish Americans in the last third of the 20th century, but Jews also became increasingly comfortable in publicly acknowledging their ethnic and religious background. The Six-Day War in 1967 engendered a great deal of ethnic pride and in the following decades the *American Israel Public Affairs Committee (aipac) became a major Washington lobbying institution that represented the Jewish community's very public commitment to fostering strong U.S.-Israel relations. In the late 1980s two partisan Jewish organizations – the *National Jewish Democratic Council (njdc) and the *Republican Jewish Coalition (rjc) – emerged as an acknowledgement that Jewish Americans were now comfortable in asserting a particular Jewish agenda in the public arena. Moreover, a review of nearly any Jewish weekly at the turn of the 20th century would turn up a headline or two that asked the very public question, "What is good for the Jews?"

In the 1960s Milton Himmelfarb observed that "Jews live like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans." In the latter third of the 20th century, many commentators examined an American Jewish community that was one of the richest and most highly educated groups in America and predicted that such a minority was bound to become Republican. However, the gop realignment among Jews never happened.

In 1968 Republican Richard Nixon captured about 17% of the Jewish vote in his run for president. Four years later against George McGovern the Nixon percentages doubled to 35%. Elsewhere Nixon was elected in a landslide. In the next four presidential elections the Jewish Republican vote bounced between 30% and 39% – the trend seemed to be away from the community's New Deal loyalties. Jimmy Carter received a plurality of Jewish votes and Jews voted in significant numbers of John Anderson, the third party candidate.

However, in 1992 George H.W. Bush only received approximately 12% of the Jewish vote, and in the next two elections, the Clinton-Dole-Perot election, the gop garnered 16% and then 19% of the Jewish vote in the Gore-Lieberman-Bush-Cheney election. Between 2001 and 2004, the administration of President George W. Bush adopted a pro-Israel stance toward the ongoing violence in the Middle East. Republican political operatives openly targeted the Jewish vote as they prepared for the 2004 election. During the same time frame there were numerous predictions by Republican spokesmen and Jewish organizational leaders that the Jewish vote was about to shift to the Republican party. On election day 2004, John Kerry defeated George W. Bush in the Jewish community by a margin of 77% to 22%.

Why did the Jewish vote continue to be a reliable Democratic bloc at the presidential level in the 1990s and the first four years of the 21st century? The most important reason has to do with the nature of the two American political party coalitions. The modern Republican coalition's most dominant element has been evangelical Christians. Though this group is widely viewed as pro-Israel, the other issues it champions – opposition to abortion rights, gay rights, and the separation of church and state – clash with the issue agenda of the vast majority of American Jews. Republicans have tried to paint the Democratic Party as anti-Israel, but this has been unsuccessful as both parties in America are broadly seen as pro-Israel.

The progressive world-view that the vast majority of American Jews adhere to does not mean that Republican candidates can never win majorities in the Jewish community. Party-identification in 2004 was less strong than it had been in previous eras. Jews split along religious lines with Orthodox Jews voting far more often for George Bush than did their non-Orthodox counterparts. In municipal elections Republican candidates are often successful with Jewish voters. Moreover in the northeast states, where gop candidates are often much less conservative than their brethren in the rest of the country, individual moderate Republicans have run fairly strongly in Jewish constituencies. But as long as the national gop strongly identifies with conservative Christian constituencies, it will be hard for most state and national Republican candidates to compete effectively in the Jewish community.

By the first decade of the century, the American Jewish community played an unprecedented role in the politics of the United States. Jewish actors were placed in significant roles throughout the process. Unlike in Europe, antisemitism has not surged in recent years and American Jews are comfortable in running for office and even in asserting a Jewish agenda in the political process. Jewish public opinion remained much more liberal than most other segments of the American electorate and Jewish voting remained largely, if not universally, Democratic.

Antisemitic appeals by candidates have been fairly rare and largely ineffectual over the last few decades. When they are used they are usually the work of fringe candidates, or they are of the "whispering campaign" variety, or they have engendered an immediate backlash. Candidates, whose records on Jewish-related issues have been problematic, have tended to go out of their way to move toward a more pro-Israel, pro-Jewish point of view as they move into the mainstream. Of course, there have been exceptions such as Patrick Buchanan.

It is difficult to predict the future political landscape for the American Jewish community, but demographic trends provide a few hints. By 2001 Orthodox Jews comprised less than 10% of the Jewish electorate. However, given fertility rates it is expected that Orthodoxy will represent a larger percentage of the Jewish electorate in future decades. It is also the least progressive segment of the Jewish community. Moreover, if current overall rates of assimilation and lower birthrates persist, it will be very difficult for the Jewish community to be as influential in the political process by the latter half of the 21st century.

[Ira Forman (2nd ed.)]

add. bibliography:

F.C. Brasz, in: Studia Rosenthaliana, 19 (1985), 299–311; J. Michman, Dutch Jewry during the Emancipation Period 17871815, Gothic Turrets on a Corinthian Building (1995); B. Wallet, in: Zutot, (2003), 173–77. L.H. Fuchs, Political Behavior of American Jews (1956); J.J. Goldberg, Jewish Power; Inside the Jewish American Establishment (1996); S.D. Isaacs, Jews and American Politics (1974); L.S. Maisel and I.N. Forman (eds.), Jews in American Politics (2001); K.F. Stone, The Congressional Minyan: The Jews of Capitol Hill (2000).


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by Aristotle


An analytic treatise in eight books, composed in Greek between 347 and 335 bce


Aristotle examines the principles of government and analyzes the types of rule that exist in his day (democratic, oligarchic, aristocratic, monarchic, tyrannical, and mixed).

Events in History at the Time of the Essay

The Essay in Focus

For More Information

Early in life Aristotle (384-322 bce) was moved to a superb vantage point for the firsthand study of politics. He came from the small city-state of Stagira in northern Greece to the court of King Amyntas III of Macedon, arriving with his father, Nicomachus, who attended the king as court physician. At the age of 17, Aristotle traveled south to democratic Athens, where he studied with his teacher Plato for the next 20 years. When Plato died in 347 BC, Aristotle left Athens for the west coast of modern Turkey to join a small community of philosophers there. He was warmly received by the local ruler, Hermias of Atarneus, a supporter of scholars who gave his adopted daughter, Pythias, to Aristotle as a wife. Pythias bore a daughter and died soon after. At some later point Aristotle fell in love with Herpyllis, and she gave birth to his son, Nicomachus. When the threat of Persian aggression began to loom over Assos in 344, Aristotle wound his way back to Macedon and resided at the court of King Philip II, son of Amyntas. There he instructed the young Alexander, who would prove his greatness through the conquest of the Persian Empire. In 335, after his student had gained the throne as Alexander III, Aristotle returned to Athens and attracted students to study under him at the Lyceum, where he taught for 13 years and produced basic works on a staggering range of subjects. We have surviving treatises on physics, metaphysics, ethics, rhetoric, botany, and zoology, while Diogenes Laertius recorded a still greater quantity and range of works by Aristotle that have since been lost to time. Among Aristotle’s interests were social and political organization, and it was during this time that his students are thought to have gathered information on the constitutions of 158 different Greek city-states. Aristotle drew upon these constitutions to inform his discussion of political theory but was stopped short before finishing the task. Getting caught up in the tumult that ensued after Alexander’s death (323 bce) and an Athenian revolt against Macedonian domination, Aristotle found it expedient to flee, lest the Athenians harm him because of his Macedonian connections. Rather than face charges contrived against him, he fled to the Greek city of Chalcis. Aristotle died there of a stomach ailment in 322 bce, leaving behind a mass of insightful notes on constitutions and political theories, some of which were published as the Politics and have both guided and puzzled scholars ever since.

Events in History at the Time of the Essay

An unstable era

Aristotle is generally thought to have composed the Politics at intervals between the death of Plato in 347 bce and his own death in 335 bce. Both among and within states, this was a period of political instability as powers rose and fell in quick succession and revolutions put one form of government in place of another like so many strokes of an old Greek warship’s flashing oars. It was a time of challenge to the very concept of the polis (an independent political entity, or city-state, consisting of an urban center with surrounding agricultural land). Coming to the fore during this era were viable alternatives to the polis: leagues, federations, kingdoms, and empires, configurations that dwarfed the polis in population and resources (Athens, the largest polis of all, did not number much more than 250,000 inhabitants, while most city-states were far smaller).

Looming large over the previous century was a Greek civil conflict that had pitted Athens against Sparta and had ended in the victory of the latter. But, in scoring the victory, Sparta had been brought to its knees. The civil conflict, called the Peloponnesian War, had left the city-state bloodied and battered after a 27-year slogging match (431-404 bce). Rather than repeat an old mistake of withdrawing from the Aegean Sea and leaving a power vacuum, Sparta tried to rule an empire with a constitution ill-political status (sumpoliteia) and that gave suited to the task, and ultimately ruined both its empire and its constitution. New challenges surfaced to Spartan domination of the Greek city-states. At the battle of Leuctra in 371 bce, the Spartan army was devastated by a force from Thebes that had been trained by talented commanders such as Pelopidas and Epaminondas. The Thebans destabilized and crippled Sparta by detaching its important territory of Messenia and populating it with slaves that had been freed from Spartan control. But the Thebans were not satisfied with ending the domination of Sparta; rather they sought to replace its supremacy with their own. Not strong enough, they failed in the attempt, mean-while driving the neighboring city-state of Phocis to the desperate measure of plundering a treasury at Delphi to hire mercenaries to defend itself. Almost overnight, the move transformed Phocis into an important power. Other aspiring powers waxed and waned like so many passing moons: the Dionysii in Sicily and southern Italy, Alexander of Pherae in central Greece, and Mausolus of Caria in southwest Turkey. Meanwhile, major foreign powers, such as Persia and Carthage, funded one Greek polis against another, or intervened directly to destabilize the balance of power. The polis was proving to be too small and too little inclined to search for fair and peaceful solutions that would promote security and stability. A contemporary observer of the fourth-century free-for-all must have wondered how order could be imposed on chaos. Some Greeks, like the orator Isocrates (436-338 bce), tried to encourage the Greeks to cease making war on each other and join in a panhellenic attack on the rich and vulnerable territories of Persia. Despairing of persuading the citizens of the poleis (Greek city-states) to reconcile their differences, these voices began to look instead to kings and tyrants of rising nations, like Jason, Evagoras, and Philip, to bring peace to the Greek city-states by force.

In the end, this was accomplished. In 338 bce, anarchy among the city-states of Greece was checked by the unlooked-for dominance of not a polis but of the kingdom of Macedon, whose supremacy promised new stability. The city-states were compelled to join and to cede control over their foreign policy to a new federation, the League of Corinth, which was in fact dominated by Macedonia. While the poleis retained a degree of autonomy, Philip II was the undisputed leader of their combined forces. These foundations were barely laid when they were shaken by the assassination of Philip in 336 bce, and by major revolts against Alexander III, his son and successor. In quelling the uprising of 335 bce, Alexander leveled the mighty polis of Thebes, massacring its men, and selling the surviving women and children into slavery. These tactics shocked the Greek world, not so much for their brutality (great poleis had done such things to lesser ones more than once), but because they proved the shape of power had been fundamentally altered. Henceforth kingdoms, not city-states, would dominate.

Alexander went on to transform the Greek world by a lightning conquest of the Persian Empire. He, a Macedonian, became king over lands extending to India, wielding a power held by no Greek before or since. The wealth he seized dwarfed a century’s income of the richest city-state, and the peoples he ruled were legion. What place was there for a polis in such a world? Had the cosmos been reconfigured on new lines? Would Macedonia’s dominance survive Alexander?

The answers to these questions were very much in doubt in 323 bce, when Alexander died of a fever in Babylon and the poleis of mainland Greece revolted against Antipater, their Macedonian governor. Known to history as the Lamian War, the revolt was initially successful, and there was no certainty that Alexander’s generals could maintain their sway over either the Greek poleis or the Persian Empire. Ultimately the revolt would fail and Macedonia would reassert its authority. But on his deathbed in Chalcis, Aristotle could have had no certainty about what future political order would emerge—and no surety that order would emerge at all.

The problem of internal instability

The belligerents of the Peloponnesian War made clever use of propaganda. Athens fought for “democracy.” Sparta fought for “freedom.” What this meant in practice is that the Athenians tended to support democratic elements within the poleis under their sway (like Samos), and backed democratic factions in other poleis (in, for example, Corcyra [modern Corfu]) over which they wished to exert influence. The hope was that sharing a common form of government would encourage a common interest and strengthen an alliance. The Spartans, on the other hand, championed freedom from dominance by another polis (i.e., Athens) and supported poleis and factions that Aristotle, in his Politics, classified as oligarchies or republics. Hence the internal political shapes of smaller states were influenced by their alliance with one power or the other, and vice versa. When the Spartans finally emerged victorious, they planned to solidify their control over the Aegean by replacing politically incompatible governments (especially democracies) with more congenial ones (especially republics and oligarchies). To this end, they forced states to elect or appoint commissioners sympathetic to Sparta and its political ideals. Examples of such commissioners are the Thirty at Athens (many of whom were connected to Plato and Socrates, both anti-democratic philosophers) and the decarchies, or ruling bodies of ten military officers, set up by the Spartan admiral Lysander in the coastal poleis. This type of interference did not end with the Peloponnesian War, or with Sparta’s domination. Powerful states continued to back political factions within smaller poleis, and the failure to establish order among the various city-states only aggravated problems within them.

Given all this instability, it was of vital and immediate interest to consider what forms of government were most enduring and resilient. It is this real-world interest that prompted Aristotle’s research into the development of so many states. Again, the endeavor resulted in 158 treatises; of these, only one (the Constitution of the Athenians) survives. This same real-world interest also explains his consideration in the Politics of the merits of the most admired polities (i.e., Sparta, Crete, and Carthage) and the need to propose and develop forms that might prove more successful than the ill-fated poleis of the fourth century.

While the contents of the Politics are enlightening, there are some striking absences to consider, most notably Aristotle’s failure to discuss leagues and federations. These came into being in the fourth century bce, and were affected by the struggle for supremacy. Federal states were outlawed in the general peace of 387 bce (which was all but dictated by Persia and Sparta). The Spartans used this treaty to justify their forcible dismantling of a confederacy known as the Olynthian League, and they waged a protracted war to undermine the status of Thebes as the dominant power among the poleis in the Boeotian federation. Towards the end of Aristotle’s life, Greece would see the rise of the Aetolian League—a federal state that gave people of Aetolian ethnicity (the vast majority of whom did not live in poleis) an identical political status (sumpoliteia) and that gave an equal but not identical status (isopoliteia) to others. The league had an assembly that met a couple of times a year; its members voted on various matters and also established a representative council and a smaller executive committee. Aetolia played a significant role in the Lamian War, and its contribution to the anti-Macedonian alliance was critical.

Yet such political innovations do not occupy Aristotle’s attention. Instead his focus remains on the traditional polis, perhaps following the lead of his old and honored teacher Plato. Was he wrong to do so? Perhaps not. While the international scene would henceforth be dominated by kingdoms and leagues, the poleis would continue to survive as semi-independent communities with their own cultural and civic identities, meanwhile preserving the full spectrum of constitutional forms for centuries to come.

The Essay in Focus

Contents overview

By later convention, the Politics is divided into eight sections, or books. There is no certainty as to its original structure, although it has been characterized as the compilation of at least three sets of lecture notes, composed at different times with somewhat different themes. Furthermore, the present order does not reflect a sequence from older to more recent material—books 7 and 8, for example, are probably older than books 4 through 6. It follows, then, that a reader should not expect the artful polish and unity of a continuous dialogue, but rather a series of terse, pointed, and thought-provoking essays. A general outline of these follows:

Contents summary

“We see, then, that every state is a sort of association, and every association is formed with a view to some good” (Aristotle, Politics, book 1, chapter 1, section 1). So Aristotle begins, and so he defines the essential problem of the entire work. For him, the state is a human construction that serves to complete the citizen by providing an environment to sustain one’s physical and moral being. The state is both natural and indispensable to the preservation of humanity, even as the coming together of male and female is necessary for reproduction. More exactly, says Aristotle, the relationship of the “naturally ruling” with the “naturally ruled” (a less palatable claim to modern than to ancient taste, given its application to slavery) is necessary to preservation. But while the bonds of parent and child, husband and wife, and ruler and ruled are the foundation of a community, they are not sufficient in themselves. Thus, families combine to form a village, and villages, in turn, combine to form a polis, in which it is possible not only to live, but live well, in accordance with the proper disposition of human nature. Such a life is, for Aristotle, the highest good, and hence his problem and need to analyze and define the types of association and government that are conducive to attaining it.

The polis is natural, but since humans possess speech and reason, its laws are not derived from natural compulsions but deliberate decisions as to how to regulate and encourage a virtuous life in common. It follows (in book 2) that some decisions as to the organization of a state will be more conducive to the good life than others. With this in mind, Aristotle proceeds to examine the merits and flaws of a sampling of real and theoretical states. He begins with Plato’s conception of an ideal republic—an ideal that was never adopted in the ancient world, although Plato did attempt to influence the tyrant Dionysius I of Syracuse to rule according to its principles. Aristotle finds a number of faults with Plato’s conception, one being that Plato’s idea of a city owning property and children in common will not resolve the tensions that arise from some owning more than others, for these tensions stem from basic human failings. Take away private property, says Aristotle, and people will find other objects of strife, such as honor. There is even a danger to doing so. Without separate property, society fails to cultivate a sense of responsibility, for people neglect things that they do not see as their own.

Aristotle finds a basis for his criticism in the real problems of even the most admired states of his day—Sparta, Crete, and Carthage. He indicts Sparta on a number of counts, including too much license for women (which, he says, undermines the polis’s social strength) and too many lower-class participants in high office (in view, he explains, of the belief that they are particularly liable to bribery and corruption). But his most fundamental objection is that the Spartans have mistaken a part of virtue—virtue in war—for the whole, and so their state and their lives lack balance. Crete’s form of government recalls the one in Sparta, but in debased form. Lastly, Carthage has some of the merits and stability of an aristocracy (in that those best able to rule are more likely to have the opportunity to do so) but since wealth factors into eligibility for office, it has the vices of a plutocracy (i.e., rule by the wealthy). Aristotle is more sympathetic to the great compromise of the Athenian statesman Solon; even though he allocated political privileges according to income, Solon conceived of the advantage of a proper mixture of aristocratic and democratic elements. This mixture, which Aristotle calls a politeia (variously translated as “polity” or “republic”) is the best attainable (as opposed to theoretical) regime, since it adopts the finest and moderates the worst features of the two forms of government.

After contemplating the view of a polis from on high, Aristotle (in book 3) adopts a ground-level perspective to reflect on who should be considered a citizen. He concludes that it is not enough to be a free adult male born in the polis (women, children, slaves, and foreign residents were automatically excluded from participation in government). What leads him to this conclusion is the consideration that some regimes (a monarchy, for example, or an aristocracy) limit access to decision-making (Aristotle implicitly accepts such limitations—he is not, after all, advocating democracy). He thus defines a citizen as a person (he means a free adult male) who has some share in the judicial and executive part of government. The qualities of a good citizen are not always identical to those of any good man, since a citizen’s qualities are good insofar as they benefit the polis. While a good man would not suffer to be ruled by another, a good citizen should know both how to rule and how to be ruled. These definitions lead us to paradoxes. For instance, can it be said that there were no good men in Macedonia or Persia, since both were ruled by a king? It is highly unlikely that Aristotle would have been so tactless as to apply such reasoning to Macedonia, given his personal experience in and ties to the kingdom.

Aristotle next considers the ways in which citizens rule and are ruled by looking at types of regimes. Properly, these are three: rule by a single person (monarchy), rule by a few, (aristocracy), and rule by the multitude (politeia, or republic). When these forms are debased, in that the rule is no longer for the common good but rather for the good of the ruling element, they turn into tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy. Criteria of wealth and the concept of justice divide oligarchy and democracy. Justice, in an oligarchy, is equity: in other words, proportionate inequality for unequal people; in a democracy, justice entails equality for all. The former is flawed because its standard of measurement is often wealth, the latter because it fails to recognize inherent inequalities (in intelligence, skill, artistic talent, athletic ability, beauty, and so forth). Since the polis aims to produce a good life, this dispute about justice is at the core of disputes about regimes. The solution is to leave the rule of the city not to one faction or another (e.g., the elite in an oligarchy, or the mob in a democracy) but to law. The law, however, only provides general principles, whereas a competent and virtuous individual or group can render specific responses to particular problems. For Aristotle, the individual or group making such responses must be determined once again by a sense of justice. If one person surpasses all others in virtue, then that individual should be king.


Aristotle creates a definition of virtue (arete in Creek) in his Nicomachean Ethics (2.6.15). Rejecting that it might be an emotion or a capacity, he argues instead that virtue is a habit or disposition in actions or emotions. Specifically, it is a disposition to choose the right thing, that is, the mean between extremes as determined by a prudent person. Courage, for instance, lies between the extremes of cowardice and recklessness. In Aristotle’s view, a virtuous person would be disposed to choose a course of action between such extremes. It follows that a monarch of surpassing virtue, with this definition in mind, could make the best possible choices for the state.

If there is not a clear distinction in merit, then it is more fitting to have rule by an aristocracy or a republic. In the end, the good man does suffer himself to be ruled by another, at least when he dwells in a good city where justice and virtue are the criteria for both political rule and for self-rule.

Altogether Aristotle has identified six types of regime: three fundamental ones (monarchy, aristocracy, and republic) and their debased forms (tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy). Now (in book 4) he considers which is best and which is most practicable. He calls tyranny the worst of the deviant regimes. True aristocracy, rule by the finest few or very best, is a form that Aristotle seems to think is not possible. Moving to oligarchy and democracy, he notes that each is either ill or well suited to a polis depending on its social and economic composition. The primary division of interest is the rich and the poor; the regime reflects the balance of power between them. Some democracies, like that of the Athenians in its better moments, advocate equality to rich and poor alike and abide by the ultimate authority of rule of law. But other democracies substitute the will of the majority for law (in effect, abandoning a “constitution”). Likewise, some oligarchies recognize the supremacy of law (though they have property or familial requirements for holding office). But others substitute the will of the rich for the rule of law. It is apparent that the rule of law is of prime importance to a state: “He who commands that law should rule may thus be regarded as commanding [that] God and reason alone should rule; he who commands that a man should rule adds the character of the beast” (Politics, 3.11.4).

Rather than advocate a pure form (although he acknowledges the ideal of the virtuous king), Aristotle seeks to balance the virtues and imperfections of the various possibilities by contriving a composite form, including some elements from the rule by the many and some from rule by the best (an aristocracy). Aristotle calls this composite form a politeia, which leads to confusion, as this is the term that he also uses for rule by the many in the interests of the whole. Hence, later scholars, from Cicero to the founders of the United States of America and beyond, have re-dubbed the composite politeia, instead using the Latin name for this same form—the republic.

The republic can be contrived in various ways. People can establish it by incorporating or synthesizing laws from its two component forms (politeia, rule by the many, and aristocracy, rule by the best). Or people can aim for the mean between the two component forms. Either way, the republic secures its stability and virtue from the middle populace, those who are neither very rich nor very poor. They are a center of gravity, a virtuous mean between the vacillations of either side.


Although today many refer to the United States as a democracy, Aristotle would consider it to be a republic. The essential distinction is the relationship of the people to the government. In a democracy, the citizens and the government are the same, and the general assembly of all citizens holds ultimate power. All citizens can and should actively participate in making laws, judgments, and policy. When officials are necessary for day-to-day tasks, they are selected by a lottery system that ensures that the powerful and influential have no more chance of holding office than the weak and inconsequential. In a republic the citizens do not themselves participate in decisions, but are represented by elected officials. In some republics, like ancient Rome and medieval Florence, there were strong democratic elements. In Rome, citizen assemblies or their representatives could nullify (i.e.; “veto” which is Latin for “I forbid”) or make laws (through the plebiscite, a direct vote to accept or reject them). Other republics, like Renaissance Venice and modern America, give less power to the people, and more to officials, who are elected (e.g., the U.S. president, who exercises the veto) or appointed (e.g., the U.S. supreme court justices). For a Greek living in a democratic state, like Athens, the idea of electing somebody to represent you in politics would be analogous to electing somebody to work out for you at a gymnasium. The Athenian would think that a free citizen must himself participate, or he would not be a free citizen, just as those who wish to be fit must themselves exercise, or they would not be fit.

To those who would devise a regime, Aristotle recommends careful consideration of how one organizes its policymaking, official and judicial parts. In deliberating, a democratic regime might have its citizens make decisions in turns, all at once, or in response to an agenda proposed by officials. An oligarchic regime might open debate to only those who meet a property requirement or only those who hold office. Both democracies and oligarchies have recourse to officials. The types, nature, and number of offices, and the qualifications for the officeholders, will vary according to the polis’s size and regime. What qualifications judges must have and how to select them must also be determined, as must the size and purview of the courts.

No sound political treatise in the fourth century bce could neglect the role of revolution. In his fifth book, Aristotle not only examines the nature and causes of revolution, but also makes recommendations as to how to avoid it. The ultimate cause of revolution, says Aristotle, is factional conflict, which stems from differing ideas on justice and equality. As noted above, oligarchs hold that proportionate inequality (or equity) is just; democrats uphold equality. A balance between equity and equality, upheld by the middle class (literally, the ones in the middle, hoi mesoi), may make the polis relatively stable, but even then it is subject to other causes of strife. Human nature can be swayed to side with a faction by profit, honor, fear, contempt, and a perception of difference. Petty disagreements among the powerful may permeate and trouble the state. Also, gradual changes in demography (the size or composition of a population) can have a subtle effect on the balance, one that suddenly comes to the foreground in a crisis. If, for instance, more and more people move to a coastal city to take advantage of new opportunities in trade, the inland farmers may suddenly find that their interests are no longer regarded as important. Democracies are particularly vulnerable to demagogues and popular leaders, especially popular generals. Dionysius of Syracuse is one example. Such leaders can subvert a democracy into a tyranny. On the other hand, not a few oligarchies have fallen due to their unjust treatment of the multitude. Others have fallen because internal competition led to the dominance of a single oligarchic or popular leader. There are dangers inherent in oligarchies too. When the status of the oligarchs is based on property, gradual changes in the distribution of wealth can result in an outmoded hierarchy and consequent in-fighting. Aristocracies and their corrupted form, the oligarchy, are particularly liable to deviations from justice and resulting revolutions. Monarchy stands or falls on the character and behavior of the ruler, while tyrants often lose power when they alienate the people through cruel and depraved acts.

The essential remedy for these ills is adherence to and enforcement of the laws. The rulers should cultivate virtues and justice appropriate to the regime and instill them in the people. The needs of the poor must be heeded in an oligarchy; the property of the wealthy should be respected in a democracy. Kings must observe limits to their authority; tyrants must instill awe and fore-stall rivals. In any case, the middle class should not be neglected, since it provides stability.

Aristotle returns once more to democracy in book 6, considering its defining principles: freedom to live as one wants and equality based on membership rather than merit. Such values are not easily suited to rule by others but, if necessary, citizens can compromise on ruling and being ruled in turn. In a democracy, all citizens are eligible for office, but many elections are by means of a lottery, not by vote (as in a republic). Officials are paid, so that all can afford the time in office. The terms are brief, and a citizen can hold an office only once. Juries are made up of average citizens, and an assembly of all citizens has ultimate authority.

The essential character of a democracy depends on the population of the polis. Where farmers predominate, the democracy is soundest, since its citizens devote their time and effort to their crops rather than to assemblies. They do not seek out the honors of office and are content to leave these to others, so long as they can check their behavior through audits. Herdsmen are similar to farmers. Merchants and laborers are not as reliable as herdsmen or farmers, and are prone to meet more often because they reside in the city, leading to disturbance and instability. Thus, the character of the populace is important. It would be best to encourage the growth and prominence of a middle class, lest the more wayward crowds dominate. State income must be carefully managed—surpluses are dangerous when subject to the whims of demagogues; they should be administered judiciously and distributed to the poor, who might otherwise become desperate.

The guidelines for a democracy or a republic are applicable to an oligarchy—indeed the best of these resemble republics. Lower offices should be open to the less wealthy, higher offices to those few who can afford the public expenses attached to them (this not only limits the number who can hold the offices, but also relieves the officeholder of jealousy—since he will be paying an unenviable price for holding an office).

In books 7 and 8, generally agreed to be the earliest parts of the Politics, Aristotle speculates on the best regime imaginable without worrying about practicalities. His evaluation is naturally based on his idea of the best way of life—that is, a life of happiness derived from virtue. For Aristotle, the happiest polis acts most in accordance with justice, prudence, and wisdom, and the best regime is one whose citizens are able to practice such virtues. These “goods of the soul,” the highest goods, are supplemented by care for the material needs of the citizen, those met by the provision of external goods and the goods of the body (e.g., food and shelter). Thus, not only are the good man and the good citizen one and the same. The contemplative nature of the philosophic life is also married to the active political life.

Aristotle does not neglect the physical structure of the ideal polis. The city is to be large enough to be self-sufficient, but not so large that it can no longer be well managed. It should not be too poor or too rich, but instead provide for a large middle class. Its territory must be large enough to supply its citizens with sufficient resources and the ability to live with leisure to enjoy life and develop virtue, but small enough to be defensible by its own population. It should be close enough to the sea to enjoy the fruits of trade, but its port should be far enough away so that foreign visitors and merchants can be controlled and regulated. In terms of climate, the city should be neither too cold nor too hot so it can possess the high spirit that Aristotle attributed to cooler climes and the love for thought and art he associated with warmer lands.

Its people will, of course, need food, shelter, and goods. But the production of necessities is not a job for freeborn citizens. Their needs will be met by laborers, artisans, farmers, and so on, both free people and slaves. Although these workers will live in the polis, they will not be a part of its political life. They have neither time nor temperament, explains Aristotle, for the development of rational minds. War and judgment, which require courage and wisdom, will be the realms of the citizens, who will rule and be ruled, in turn, since they are alike. This likeness must be reinforced through a communal education, similar to Sparta in that it instills virtue, different in that its conception of virtue is complete. Unlike Sparta, in which citizens train only for war, the citizens of Aristotle’s polis will prepare themselves for a virtuous life in both war and peace. Marriage and childrearing will have to be regulated to guarantee a future of healthy, strong, and virtuous citizens.

In the final book of the Politics, Aristotle devises a program for educating the children of the ideal polis. As indicated, this education is communal, not private, and covers the same material for all, since it aims to achieve a single goal—the creation of a virtuous populace—for the city as a whole. The citizen exists not merely for himself, but as a part of the whole polis, whose importance supersedes his. The curriculum deals with both the students’ bodies and their minds. To teach lessons necessary for the development of the free man, it neglects trades and crafts, since these are the duties of hirelings or slaves. Instead the curriculum focuses on gymnastics and music (which includes poetry by Homer and others) for young minds, followed by art and literature for more mature ones. Lessons are instilled first through habit, then through reason. They shape the citizen, endowing him with practical knowledge and the capacity to enjoy leisure in a proper manner.

In essence, a well-conceived polis is the proper context for what Aristotle considers to be the good life, which in turn is the proper goal for a human being. This context, developed so painstakingly by Aristotle over the course of eight books, is absolutely vital, for he says that a man who is “incapable of entering into an association, or so self-sufficient that he has no need to do so, is no part of a polis, so that he must be either a beast or a god” (Politics, 1.1.12). Aristotle is writing for neither beast nor god, but for humans, and shows them how they might realize their full potential by shaping their political and social environment.

Aristotle, kingship, and Alexander

Two candidates for the ideal regime compete in the Politics: a republic and a monarchy. On the basis of both this work and one of Aristotle’s ethical treatises (Nicomachean Ethics), at least one scholar has identified monarchy as Aristotle’s preferred form. The scholar (Hans Kelsen) points to explicit and implicit praises of it in both of Aristotle’s works and argues that the shifting primacy of the two in the Politics is a product of his delicate position in the struggle between the Athenian polis and the Macedonian kingdom.

The argument for monarchy is not an easy one to make at the Lyceum in fourth-century Athens. Many leading Athenians, most notably, Demosthenes, presented an anti-Macedonian policy in the guise of a defense of liberty against the encroachments of a depraved king. The king of Macedon, they argued, has enslaved his own people, and aims to do the same to others. This was a criticism directed not only at King Philip, but at royalty in general. Indeed, the subjects of the Great King of Persia, even if they were nobles in charge of vast tracts of land, were often referred to as slaves (douloi). Alexander, the successor to the thrones of both Macedon and Persia, became a target of the same charge—and perhaps with more justification.

Philip and Alexander consciously worked to change the way Macedonian kings ruled. Previously, their authority was bound by tradition and by jealous defense of aristocratic prerogatives. Both Philip and Alexander sought to expand their authority by looking abroad to some Eastern conceptions of kings as divine (as in Egypt, where the pharaohs of old had been represented as the incarnation of the god Horus). Philip encouraged the blending of the heroic status of the dead (traditionally observed) with a heroic status of the living (decidedly unconventional), and was able to compel some degree of recognition of his family’s special status, as indicated by a monument to his family within the sacred bounds of the sanctuary of the supreme god Zeus at Olympia (the site of the ancient Olympics, not to be confused with Mount Olympus, reputed home of the gods, which lay well to the north in Philip’s territory). Alexander went much farther than his father. His coins depicted the famous Greek hero Herakles (Hercules) in his own image, promoting a sort of ruler cult, not only in foreign parts of the empire, but also back in Greece. He was no doubt encouraged in this by the fact that the Egyptians recognized him as their pharaoh and the Persians practiced the ritual of proskynesis (prostrating themselves before their king, probably by getting down on their hands and knees and kissing the ground between the hands). Such behavior had never been asked of the Greeks. In fact, Aristotle, like most Greeks of his day, would not have hesitated to refer to even very powerful Persians as slaves, because they normally prostrated themselves before their king. Part of Alexander’s divine status was derived from a claim to be the son of Zeus-Ammon (an equation of Zeus with the Egyptian god Ammon). Some also recognized his claim that he deserved heroic (hence divine) status because of his areté, or excellence. While bizarre to many modern readers, this made a degree of sense in the fourth century bce. The barrier between mortal and


In Greek myth, Herakles was the son of Alkmene, a human woman, and Zeus, king of the gods. Considered the greatest of Greek heroes, Herakles is most famous for his 12 labors, the common theme of which was the deliverance of people from savage monsters that preyed on them. The most significant of these labors was his descent into the under-world to bring back Cerberus, a three-headed hound that guarded the realm of the dead. Not only did Herakles subdue the beast; he returned from the dead. His return, along with his later death and rise to Mount Olympus, home of the gods, gave him a special sort of immortality. It is said that this special state was granted at least partly because of his amazing and noble deeds, and the excellence (in Greek, areté) that he demonstrated in accomplishing them, In fact, Herakles epitomized the Greek fascination with excellence and the transcendental qualities they attached to it It is no accident that his image {often identified by his lion-skin armor and a heavy club) appeared in many contexts, and was manipulated to many ends. In ancient comedy, he is cast as a stupendously strong but weak minded glutton (e.g., Aristophanes’ Birds); in ancient tragedy/as a man testing the limits of humanity (eg., Euripides’ Madness of Herakles). He also appears on Macedonian coins minted in Aristotle’s day, where his figure recalls both the mythical pedigree of the Mace. donian royal house (which traced its ancestry back to Herakles) and the ideal of excellence that the kings wished their people to associate with their rule. Similarly in his Politics, Aristotle argues for the primary and transcendent merit of kingship as a form of government if (and only if) the king surpasses all others in excel fence, just as Herakles surpassed lesser mortals.

immortal was permeable at times. The myths of Herakles, for example, awarded divine status to this hero in return for his virtue and accomplishments, and certainly Alexander had surpassed Herakles’s exploits in war.

But however great Alexander would appear in hindsight, he was not universally admired in his day. In effect, when a king grasped at authority beyond that permitted by tradition, he became a tyrant. How might Aristotle, a denizen of both the Macedonian court and the Athenian Lyceum, reconcile those two worlds? Aristotle’s solution was found in the virtuous king:

But if there is any one man so greatly distinguished in outstanding virtue [areté], or more than one but not enough to be able to make up a complete state, so that the virtue of all the rest and their political ability is not comparable with that of the men mentioned … it is no longer proper to count these exceptional men a part of the state; for they will be treated unjustly if deemed worthy of equal status, being so widely unequal in virtue and in their political ability: since such a man will naturally be as a god among men. … It remains therefore … for all to obey such a man gladly, so that men of this sort may be kings in the poleis for all time.

(Politics, 3.8.1,7)

Aristotle had already noted that different mixtures of democracy and aristocracy are appropriate to different circumstances. With the same recognition of the various possibilities in human nature, he now notes that men who are exceptional because of their excellence and virtue (areté) warrant exceptional treatment. If there is any doubt that Aristotle is referring to the kings of Macedon, it is dispelled when we read of rulers who “like [the mythical Athenian king] Codrus, have prevented the state from being enslaved in war” and who “like [the Persian king] Cyrus, have given their country freedom, or have settled or gained a territory, like the Lacedaemonian, Macedonian, and Molossian kings” (Politics 5.8.5; emphasis added).

Aristotle based his philosophy on a hard look at the real world. If, in the real world, Alexander had surpassed even the myth of Herakles, and burst the boundaries of the known world, how could he be contained in the confines of a republic?

Sources and literary context

The Archaic Age (c. 620-580 bce) saw the founding of Greek colonies all around the Mediterranean region, each independent of its mother state (e.g., Syracuse, founded by Corinth, was from the start an independent polis). Self-governing, these colonies created their own constitutions, often adopting the form of government in the mother state but adapting it to meet local needs. The age also saw regime changes in the various city-states of Greece. Thus, Aristotle had real-life examples on which to draw. Also writers articulated political ideals in poetry and prose. Our earliest academic speculation on political forms harks back to the Greek historian Herodotus who in the 430s or early 420s bce contrived a fictional scene in which Persian nobles debate the relative merits of democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy. Thucydides also gave considerable attention to the behavior and dynamics of various types of states, in his own narrative and in the speeches he attributed to historical figures (such as the Funeral Oration of Pericles in his essay The Peloponnesian War, also in Classical Literature and Its Times). But it was the fourth century that would give rise to the first treatises on the workings of the polis. While Plato concerned himself with theory, Xenophon concentrated on practice in a real polis.

Xenophon was the author not only of historical works like the Persian Expedition (also in Classical Literature and Its Times), but also of short technical treatises on hunting, horsemanship, and the like. He wrote advice to aspiring leaders, in sections of the Memorabilia (philosophical dialogues featuring Socrates) and especially in the Education of Cyrus (a handbook on rule and leadership). Xenophon was profoundly interested in Sparta, and wrote a biography of one of its kings, Agesilaus, with whom he was well acquainted. Also attributed to him (although the authorship is un-certain) is the Constitution of the Lacedaemonians (Lacedemonian was the ancient Greek name for Sparta), which tried to explain Sparta’s role as the dominant power by focusing on its political and social structure. The introduction to this treatise made a groundbreaking connection: “It occurred to me one day that Sparta, though among the most thinly populated of states, was evidently the most powerful and most celebrated city in Greece; and I fell to wondering how this could have happened. But when I considered the institutions of the Spartans, I wondered no longer” (Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, 1.1). Here the author links a polis’s political and social institutions to its civic greatness. In so doing, he points to a new type of treatise, which others will develop in centuries to come. These others (among them, Aristotle’s students) will compile information on many poleis so that their teacher can synthesize the material, draw general conclusions, and devise theories based on hard data—in other words, so that their teacher can write the Politics.

Aristotle’s teacher, Plato, explored politics too, but his explorations concerned less earthy examples. Like Xenophon, Plato admired Sparta. He examined its customs and laws, assessed their merits and flaws, and devised an ideal but imaginary state, predicated on the virtue of justice, which he described in his Republic (also in Classical Literature and Us Times). Towards the end of his life, Plato revisited the problem of justice and virtue in the hypothetical founding of a new colony, and produced the Laws. Aristotle was intimately familiar with both works. He found himself in disagreement with some of Plato’s premises and more concerned with realism and practicality. It is often argued that Aristotle began his Politics soon after Plato composed the Laws (in the 340s bce); in any event, their influence on the Politics is everywhere visible in Aristotle’s challenges to his teacher’s tenets.

Finally, it would be remiss not to mention the connection between the Nicomachean Ethics and the Politics. In the former work, Aristotle sets the foundations for themes that will recur in the Politics, such as his conception of virtue and its development through habit and reason. Also discussed in his earlier work is the notion of a virtuous mean between two extremes, a fore-shadowing of his assertion that the “middling elements” are the polis’s source of stability. Finally, the Ethics ends with the promise of a discourse on their practical application in the polis, which is fulfilled in the Politics. This later work intends to help ensure that the ethical behavior set down in the Ethics is enforced in laws.

Publication and reception

Upon Aristotle’s death in 322 bce, the manuscript of the Politics, together with his other unpublished works, became the responsibility of Theophrastus, who succeeded Aristotle as head of the Lyceum. Theophrastus, in turn, willed his collection of manuscripts to an obscure individual by the name of Neleus, who brought it to Scepsis in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), where it languished hidden and forgotten until the first century bce. While copies may have survived in major philosophic centers such as Athens, Alexandria, and Rhodes, these copies seem to have had little impact on the writers of the third and second centuries bce. A critical edition finally emerged in the early first century bce when, according to tradition, a wealthy scholar named Apellicon discovered the text, brought it back to Athens, and tried diligently to restore the neglected and damaged manuscript. Apellicon’s library was seized by the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla during his sack of Athens in 86 bce, and brought to Rome, where it received a welcoming and attentive audience in such renowned figures as Cicero. The Roman writer Andronicus published a corrected edition, and a revival of interest in Aristotle in general, and the Politics in particular, ensued.

The subsequent influence of the Politics has been profound. It influenced John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, and echoes of Aristotle’s voice can be heard in the language of the American Declaration of Independence. Even today, his ideas provide a foundation for debate on issues that he framed over two millennia ago.

—Frank Russell

For More Information

Adler, Mortimer. Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy. New York: Macmillan, 1978.

Aristotle. Politics. Trans. H. Rackham. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990.

Barker, Ernest. “The Life of Aristotle and the Composition and Structure of the Politics.” Classical Review 45 (1931): 162-172.

Barnes, Jonathan, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Diogenes Laertius. Lives of Eminent Philosophers. Trans. R. Hicks. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972.

Jaeger, Werner. Aristotle: Fundamentals of the History of His Development. Trans. R. Robinson. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1948.

Kelsen, Hans. “The Philosophy of Aristotle and the Hellenic-Macedonian Policy.” International Journal of Ethics 48, no. 1 (1937): 1-64.

Kraut, Richard. Aristotle: Political Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Lord, Carnes. “The Character and Composition of Aristotle’s Politics.” Political Theory 9, no. 4 (1981): 459-478.

Mulgan, R. G. Aristotle’s Political Theory: An Introduction for Students of Political Theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977.

Xenophon. Constitution of the Lacedaemonians. In Scripta Minora. Trans. E. C. Marchant. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984.

Yack, Bernard. The Problems of a Political Animal: Community, Justice, and Conflict in Aristotelian Political Thought. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.


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322. Politics

See also 185. GOVERNMENT .

the attitude of taking an active part in events, especially in a social context. activist, n.
the doctrine of an equal division of landed property and the advancement of agricultural groups. Also called agrarian reform . agrarian, adj.
analytical stasiology
an attempt, through the construction of conceptual frameworks, to develop a science of political parties.
opposition to doctrines on citizenship, especially those promulgated in France during the French Revolution. anticivic, adj.
opposition to the Jacobins, one of the revolutionary parties of the French revolution; by extension, the term denotes opposition to the French Revolution and any of its supporters. anti-Jacobin, n.
the quality of being opposed to the establishment or maintenance of a governmental military force. antimilitarist, n. antimilitaristic, adj.
the techniques, policies, and training of special police who deal with terrorists, especially those who take hostages. antiterrorist, adj.
the holding of no particular belief, creed, or political position. Cf. nothingarianism . anythingarian, n.
a devotion to Arab interests, custom, culture, ideals, and political goals.
a follower of Arnold of Brescia, 12th-century Italian political reformer, especially his attacks upon clerical riches and corruption and upon the temporal power of the pope.
independent self-rule free from outside influence.
a social and political doctrine advocating egalitarianism and communism. Babouvist, n.
the state of being composed of members of two parties or of two parties cooperating, as in government. bipartisan, adj.
the practice, during war, of promoting propaganda and defeatist activities favoring an enemy country.
1. support of the actions and doctrines of Napoleon Bonaparte.
2. the desire for a leader to emulate Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonapartist, n.
U.S. Slang, the practice of bribery or illicit payments, especially to or from a politician. Also boodling . boodier, n.
U.S. a control by bosses, especially political bosses.
1. an adherence to the ideas and system of government developed by the Bourbons.
2. an extreme conservatism, especially in politics. Bourbonist, n. Bourbonian, Bourbonic, adj.
brinkmanship, brinksmanship
the technique or practice in foreign policy of manipulating a dangerous situation to the limits of tolerance or safety in order to secure advantage, especially by creating diplomatic crises.
the characteristics shown by a dictatorship or imperial authority. Caesarist, n.
a theory or system in which property and investment in busines; are owned and controlled by individuals directly or through ownership of shares in companies. Cf. communism . capitalist, n., adj. capitalistic, adj.
adherence to Don Carlos of Spain and to his successors. Carlist, n.
the doctrines and policies of Fidel Castro, communist premier of Cuba.
adherence to a middle-of-the-road position, neither left nor right, as in politics. centrist, adj., n.
the principles of a movement or party of English political reformers, chiefly workingmen, from 1838 to 1848, advocating better working and social conditions for laborers in its Peoples Charter (1838). Chartist, n.
the doctrine that all citizens have the same rights and obligations.
Obsolete, a person who studies politics.
a system of political clubs, especially the clubs of the French Revolution. clubbist, n. clubbish, adj.
the political doctrines of Richard Cobden, who believed in peace and the withdrawal from European competition for balance of power.
the socialist principle of control by the state of all means of productive or economic activity. collectivist, n., adj. collectivistic, adj.
1. a theory or system of organization in which the major political and social units are self-governing communes, and the nation is merely a federation of such groups.
2. the principles or practices of communal ownership. Cf. communism, socialism . communalist, n. communalistic, adj.
a theory or system in which all property is owned by all of the people equally, with its administration vested by them in the state or in the community. Cf. capitalism . communist, n., adj. communistic, adj.
1. the disposition to retain what is established and to practice a policy of gradualism rather than abrupt change. Cf. radicalism .
2. the principles and practices of political conservatives, especially of the British Conservative party. conservative, n., adj.
1. the principles of the form of government defined by a constitution.
2. an adherence to these principles.
3. constitutional rule or authority. constitutionalist, n.
1. an attitude or policy of favoritism or partiality to a continent.
2. a policy advocating a restriction of political or economie relations to the countries of one continent. continentalist, n.
a person who practices or advocates corruption, especially in politics or public life.
favoritism, especially in the giving of political appointments.
the habits and principles of nonrevolutionaries, of the bourgeoisie. Cf. sansculottism . culottic, adj.
1. an autocratic government.
2. dictatorship. Also spelled tzarism, tsarism. czarist, n., adj.
one of those who conspired to overthrow Russian Czar Nicholas I in December, 1825. Also Dekebrist .
demagogism, demagoguism, demagogy
the art and practice of gaining power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people. Also demagoguery.
a doctrine of or belief in social equality or the right of all people to participate equally in politics.
1. the policy of being sectarian in spirit, especially in carrying out religious policy.
2. the tendency to separate or cause to separate into sects or denominations. denominationalist, n., adj.
advocacy of the division of something, such as an educational institution, into departments. departmentalization, n.
the actions used by a saboteur against his own government and military forces. diversionist, n. diversionary, adj.
the activity of terrorists who use dynamite to blow up public places.
a social and political philosophy asserting the equality of all men, especially in their access to the rights and privileges of their society. Also equalitarianism. egalitarian, n., adj.
a form of state socialism.
a policy of expansion, as of territory or currency. expansionist, n., adj. expansionistic, adj.
factionalism, factionism
the state or quality of being partisan or self-interested. factional, adj. factionalist, n.
the doctrines and practices of the Spanish fascist party. Falangist, n., adj.
the beliefs and activities of the followers of the Marquis de Lafayette.
the principles and practices of an Irish revolutionary organization founded in New York in 1858, especially its emphasis on the establishment of an independent Irish republic. Fenian, n., adj.
(in France) a member of a club of constitutional monarchists, named after their meeting place at Notre Dame des Feuillants.
Free Soilism
the principles of the Free Soil party (1846-56), which opposed the extension of slavery into any new territories of the United States. Free Soiler, n.
the quality of having a coalition between certain political parties. fusionist, n.
Gandhism, Gandhiism
the principles of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader, especially his advocacy of passive resistance and noncooperation to achieve social and political reforms. Gandhist, Gandhiist, n. Candhian, adj.
1. the principles and policies of Charles de Gaulle during World War II in support of the Free French and opposed to the Vichy regime.
2. the political principles, chiefly conservative and nationalistic, of de Gaulle as French president, 1959-69. Gaullist, n., adj.
1. the study or application of the effect of political or economic geography on the political structure, programs, or philosophy of a state.
2. a policy or policies based on such factors.
3. the complex of geographical and political factors affecting or determining the nature of a state or region.
4. the study of the relationship between geography and politics, applied especially to the study of the doctrines and actions of Nazi Germany in the context of world domination. geopolitician, n. geopolitical, adj.
the principles of the imperial and aristocratic party of medieval Italy, especially their support of the German emperors. Cf. Guelphism . Ghibelline, n., adj.
a form of mild republicanism in France, 1791-1793, led by natives of the Gironde. Girondist, n., adj.
the principle or policy of achieving a goal, as political or economic, by gradual steps rather than by sudden and drastic innovation. Cf. conservatism, radicalism . gradualist, n., adj. gradualistic, adj.
Guelphism, Guelfism
the principles and practices of the papal and popular party in medieval Italy. Cf. Ghibellinism . Guelphic, Guelfic, adj.
the principles of Marxian socialism as interpreted by the French socialist, editor, and writer Jules Guesde. Guesdist, n., adj.
the political theories, doctrines, or policies of Alexander Hamilton, especially federalism, strong central government, and protective tariffs. Hamiltonian, n., adj.
the condition of being under the rule or domination of another.
the body of doctrine, myth, symbol, etc., with reference to some political or cultural plan, as that of communism, along with the procedures for putting it into operation. ideologist, idealogue, n. ideologic, ideological, adj.
opposition to liberalism.
1. the system of institutions or organized societies devoted to public, political, or charitable, or similar purposes.
2. a strong attachment to established institutions, as political systems or religions. institutionalist, n.
the state of being an insurgent or rebel; the activities of insurgents or rebels.
1. the belief in cooperation between nations for the common good.
2. advocacy of this concept, internationalist, n., adj.
Rare. the holding of mutual citizenship.
the doctrine supporting intervention, especially in international affairs and the politics of other countries. interventionist, n., adj.
1. a national policy advocating the acquisition of some region in another country by reason of common linguistic, cultural, historical, ethnic, or racial ties.
2. (cap.) the policies of a 19th-century Italian party that sought to annex parts of certain neighboring regions with chiefly Italian populations. irredentist, n., adj.
the policy or doctrine directed toward the isolation of a country from the affairs of other nations by a deliberate abstention from political, military, and economic agreements. isolationist, n.
the possession of equal political and legal rights by all citizens of a state.
the granting of equal or reciprocal political rights by different countries to each others citizens. isopolite, n. isopolitical, adj.
the practices of the Jacobins, a political group advocating equalitarian democracy during the French Revolution. Jacobin, n. Jacobinic, adj.
the political theories, doctrines, or policies of Thomas Jefferson, especially rigid interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, belief in an agrarian economy, states rights, and in the political acumen of the ordinary citizen. Jeffersonian, adj.
jusquaboutism, jusquaboutisme
a policy of self-sacrificing and determined radicalism. jusquaboutist, n., adj.
the autocratie political system and policies of a German kaiser.
the religious and political doctrines of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1900?-), who founded the Islamic Republic in Iran in 1979.
doctrines of the American Party (1853-1856), the main goal of which was to bar foreign-born citizens from participating in government. know-nothing, n.
a radical or liberal position or doctrine, especially in politics. leftist, n., adj.
1. a political or social philosophy advocating the f reedom of the individual, parliamentary legislatures, governmental assurances of civil liberties and individual rights, and nonviolent modification of institutions to permit continued individual and social progress.
2. the principles and practice of a liberal political party. liberalist, n., adj. liberalistic, adj.
the principles of the liberationists, an English society opposed to a state or established church and favoring disestablishment. liberationist, n.
the practice of influencing legislators to favor special interests. lobbyist, n.
the doctrines of the Locofocos, a radical faction of the New York City Democrats, organized in 1835 to oppose the conservatives in the party. Locofoco, n., adj.
1. a dedication to the British cause during the American revolution; Toryism.
2. an adherence to the cause of the republic during the Spanish Civil War. Loyalist, n., adj.
1. the principles of government set forth in The Prince by Machiavelli, in which political expediency is exalted above morality and the use of er aft and deceit to maintain authority or to effectuate policy is recommended. Also Machiavellism .
2. activity characterized by subtle cunning, duplicity, or bad faith. Machiavellian, n., adj.
the principles and attitudes of Daniel F. Malan, prime minister of the Union of South Africa (1948-54), whose policies of apartheid and Afrikander supremacy were first made law during his term of office.
1. U.S. the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, especially of pro-Communist activity, often unsupported or based on doubtful evidence.
2. any attempt to restrict political criticism or individual dissent by claiming it to be unpatriotic or pro-Communist.
an attitude of sympathy towards the Medes (Persians), held by some Greeks in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.
1. the principle of maintaining a large military establishment.
2. the policy of regarding military efficiency as the supreme ideal of the state, and the subordinating of all other ideals to those of the military. Also militaryism. militarist, n. militaristic, adj.
the principle or policy of moderation, especially in politics and international relations. moderantist, n.
1. the practice of independence, especially in politics.
2. an inability to make up ones mind, especially in politics; neutrality on controversial issues. Also mugwumpery. mugwump, n. mugwumpian, mugwumpish, adj.
a doctrine that lays stress on the importance of the multitude instead of the individual. multitudinist, n., adj. multitudinal, adj.
Nazism, Naziism
the principles and practices of the National Socialist Workers party under Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1945. Nazi, n., adj.
the advancement and advocacy of equal rights for Negroes. negrophilist, n. negrophile, adj.
domination of a small or weak country by a large or strong one without the assumption of direct government. neocolonialist, n., neocolonial, adj.
a new movement in conservatism, usually seen as a move further to the right of the position currently occupied by conservatives in politics or in attitudes. neoconservative, n., adj.
a movement that modifies classical liberalism in light of 20th-century conditions.
the practice or policy of remaining neutral in foreign affairs. neutralist, n.
the doctrine that governments should not interfere in the politics of other countries. noninterventionist, n., adj.
the practice or policy of nonsupport for established or regular political parties. Also nonpartisanship . nonpartisan, n., adj.
the holding of no belief, creed, or political position. Cf. anythingarianism . nothingarian, n.
the doctrine or advocacy of alliance or cooperation among all African states. Pan-Africanist, n., adj.
the idea of a single state including all of North and South America.
the doctrine or advocacy of alliance or cooperation among all Arab states. Pan-Arabist, n., adj.
a 19th-century political movement whose aim was the unification of all Germans.
an action or spirit of partiality for a specific political party. Also partisanship . partisan, n., adj.
1. the system of political parties.
2. a strong adherence to a party. partyist, n.
1. the state or quality of being passive.
2. the doctrine or advocacy of a passive policy, as passive resistance. passivist, n.
the principles and doctrines of political economists following the ideas of Francois Quesnay in holding that an inherent natural order adequately controlled society and advocating a laissezfaire economy based on land as the best system to prevent interference with natural laws. physiocrat, n. physiocratic, adj.
the policies of William Pitt the Younger, chief minister under King George III of England and sympathizer with the colonies during the American Revolution. Pittite, n.
1. Ecclesiastic. the holding of two or more church offices by a single person.
2. the state or condition of a common civilization in which various ethnic, racial, or religious groups are free to participate in and develop their common cultures.
3. a policy or principle supporting such cultural plurality. pluralist, n. pluralistic, adj.
a mania for politics.
the study of politics; political science. Also politicology. politologist, n. politological, adj.
the existence of a number of basic guiding principles in the political system of a Communist government.
popular sovereignty
1. the doctrine that sovereign power is vested in the people and that those chosen by election to govern or to represent must conform to the will of the people.
2. U.S. History. a doctrine, held chiefly before 1865 by antiabolitionists, that new territories should be free of federal interference in domestic matters, especially concerning slavery.
1. the principles and doctrines of any political party asserting that it represents the rank and file of the people.
2. (cap.) the principles and doctrines of a late 19th-century American party, especially its support of agrarian interests and a silver coinage. populist, n., adj. populistic, adj.
domination of government by prostitutes, especially in reference to the Roman government in the flrst half of the lOth century.
1. Also called progressionism, progressism . the principles and practices of those advocating progress, change, or reform, especially in political matters.
2. (cap.) the doctrines and beliefs of the Progressive party in America. progressivist, n.
the practices, attitudes, social status, or political condition of an unpropertied class dependent for support on daily or casual labor. proletarian, n., adj.
the principle of electing officials by proportionality. proportionalist, n., adj.
the study of elections. psephologist, n. psephological, adj.
the traitorous rejection of ones native country foliowed by the acceptance of a position of authority in the government of an occupying power. quisling, n.
1. the holding or following of principles advocating drastic political, economie, or social reforms. Cf. conservatism, gradualism .
2. the principles or practices of radicals. radical, n., adj.
realism in politics, especially policies or actions based on considerations of power rather than ideals.
the beliefs of rioters in South Wales in 1843-44, who were led by a man dressed as a woman and called Rebecca. Rebeccaite, n.
the doctrine or movement of reform whether it be social, moral, or of any other type. reformist, n. reformistic, adj.
adherence to reactionary politics. retrogradist, n., adj.
the support or advocacy of a royal government. royalist, n., adj. royalistic, adj.
any extreme republican or revolutionary principles. Cf. culottism. sanscullotist, n. sanscullotic, sanscullotish, adj.
the doctrines and practices of the secessionists. secessionist, n., adj. secessional, adj.
an advocacy of separation, especially ecclesiastical or political separation, as the secession of U.S. states before the Civl War. separatist, n., adj.
a secret Mexican counterrevolutionary movement, advocating the return to Christian social standards and opposing communism, labor unions, conscription, and Pan-Americanism. Sinarquist, n.
fear or hatred of things Slavic, especially of real or imagined political influence. Slavophobe, n. Slavophobic, adj.
1. a theory or system of social organization advocating placing the ownership and control of capital, land, and means of production in the community as a whole. Cf. utopian socialism .
2. the procedures and practices based upon this theory.
3. Marxist theory. the first stage in the transition from capitalism to communism, marked by imperfect realizations of collectivist principles. socialist, n., adj. socialistic, adj.
1. a member of a German socialist party founded in 1918.
2. an extreme socialist. [Allusion to Spartacus, leader of a slave revolt against Rome, 73-71 B.C.]
the principles and actions characteristic of one who is a strong partisan of a cause. stalwart, n.
stand pattism
extreme conservatism.
militant advocacy of suffrage for women. Cf. suffragism .
any advocacy of the granting or extension of the suffrage to those now denied it, especially to women. suffragist, n.
1. an economic system in which workers own and manage an industry.
2. a revolutionary form or development of trade unionism, originating in France, aiming at possession and control of the means of production and distribution and the establishment of a corporate society governed by trade unions and workers cooperatives. syndicalist, n. syndicalistic, adj.
Tammanism, Tammanyism
1. the activities and principles of Tammany Hall, a powerful New York City Democratic political society of the 1800s, founded as a benevolent organization, which later deteriorated into a force for political patronage and corruption.
2. activities or beliefs similar to those of Tammany Hall. Tammanyite, n., adj.
1. the principle of the political predominance of the landed classes; landlordism.
2. the theory of church policy vesting supreme ecclesiastical authority in a civil government, as in 16th-century Germany. Also called territorial system . territorialist, n.
1. a method of government or of resisting government involving domination or coercion by various forms of intimidation, as bombing or kidnapping.
2. the state of fear and terror so produced. terrorist, n., adj. terroristic, adj.
1. a support of the British cause during the American Revolution.
2. an advocacy of conservative principles opposed to reform and radicalism.
3. the actions of dispossessed Irishmen in the 17th century who were declared outlaws and noted for their outrages and cruelty.
4. the principles of a conservative British party in power until 1832. Tory, n., adj., Toryish, adj.
the condition in a nation of having two political parties with equal voting strength and little opposition from other parties.
tzarism, tsarism
extreme conservatism, especially in politics. ultraconservative, n., adj.
1. the principles of those who advocate extreme points of view or actions, as radicalism.
2. extremist activities. ultraist, n., adj. ultraistic, adj.
the state or condition of being out of sympathy with or against an ideal of American behavior, attitudes, beliefs, etc. un-American, n., adj.
utopian socialism
an economie theory based on the premise that voluntary surrender by capital of the means of production would bring about the end of poverty and unemployment. Cf. socialism .
1. any underhanded, illegal, unethical, or dishonest political practice or action.
2. behavior attempting to conceal such practices or action.
Rare. government or rule by Whigs.
the doctrines and activities of the Irish Whiteboys, a secret agrarian society formed in 1761 to fight high rents [from the white shirts worn by the members at night for identification]. Whiteboy, n.


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Because the tobacco industry makes a product that is deadly and generates substantial controversy and opposition, its survival depends on being an active and effective political player at all levels of government. The industry fares better when there are low taxes on its products: little or no regulation on tobacco products and advertising; and few restrictions on its legal liability for the death and disease it causes, or where smoking is permitted. Conversely, enactment of public health policies to reduce the burden of disease and death that the tobacco industry causes involves political action on the part of public health advocates, which the industry works to block.

Since the tobacco industry is held in low esteem nearly everywhere in the world, it often exercises its political influence in the background, working through third parties (from the liberal American Civil Liberties Union to the conservative Cato Institute) and through front groups that it creates and secretly funds (such as "hospitality associations" that oppose clean indoor air laws) to press its agenda. It also exerts more direct influence on individual politicians and political parties through large and strategically placed campaign contributions.

Public health advocates have been most effective in countering the tobacco industry's influence when they can move the field of play from the national or state to the local level. There, the resources that public health advocates can muster are adequate to the task and the tobacco industry's superior resources and national political connections are less effective. The tobacco industry works to neutralize local political action with "preemption," whereby national or state government restricts the right of subordinate political bodies, which are closer to the public and more willing to implement the popular will for tobacco control, than units higher in the political system.

Early Battles on Smoking and Health

The tobacco industry's heavy involvement in politics began in the mid-1950s after the Reader's Digest published an article titled "Cancer by the Carton." As a result, the public began to embrace scientific research linking smoking to lung cancer. A wave of public concern led to debates by political units at all levels on restrictions on the sale of cigarettes and on cigarette advertising and promotion. The tobacco industry responded by creating the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TICR, later renamed the Council for Tobacco Research), a nominally independent scientific body, to get to the bottom of the "smoking and health controversy," and the Tobacco Institute, a lobbying organization, based in Washington, D.C., that was created to allow the cigarette manufacturers to present a unified front to Congress and other political decision makers at all levels. Both organizations were tightly controlled by industry executives and lawyers.

Public awareness of the evidence that smoking was dangerous increased in 1964, when the U.S. Surgeon General, acting on behalf of the United States government, released a report concluding that tobacco use was linked to lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of cancer. Public interest in the report—and concerns by the industry that it would adversely affect them—was so strong that release was delayed until after business for that week when the New York Stock Exchange was closed. The industry also feared that public health groups, most notably the American Cancer Society, would use the publication of the report to severely restrict the industry.

The resulting wave of public concern led to several legislative proposals and in 1965 Congress passed the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act. While health forces were pleased that the act added warning labels to cigarettes, the combined political and economic power of the tobacco industry and the strength of the constituency of tobacco farmers kept the warning label small and weak. More important, the act prevented states (and localities) from taking any further action on cigarette labeling or advertising. While the labeling law marked a small step forward at the time, preemption prevented strong local and regional action against cigarettes permanently. Indeed, half a century later, in 2001 in the case of Lorillard Tobacco et al. v. Reilly, Attorney General of Massachusetts et. al., the Supreme Court cited the 1965 act in striking down strong advertising and labeling legislation enacted by Massachusetts that would have prohibited tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools, including both outdoor advertising and advertising within retail stores that could be viewed from outside the store. The industry would use the strategy of giving a little, such as agreeing to a modest warning label, to get preemption and arrest future progress on tobacco control at both the national and state levels in the coming decades.

Most political battles during the late 1960s and early 1970s over tobacco control continued at the national level. Tobacco control forces won a substantial victory in 1967 when, in response to a lawsuit brought by a law professor at Georgetown University, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that cigarette advertising was "controversial," requiring radio and television stations to give free time to broadcast antismoking advertisements. These advertisements, produced by health groups, ran at the rate of approximately one antismoking advertisement for every three protobacco advertisements. As shown in Figure 1, this counter-advertising campaign led to a 5 percent decline in cigarette consumption per person in the United States, in 1975, the first sustained drop in cigarette consumption.

The tobacco industry responded by going back to Congress and supporting legislation to eliminate cigarette advertising on radio and television. While ending broadcast cigarette advertising was viewed as a public health positive, the fact that the cigarette advertisements were off the air meant that the antismoking advertisements also disappeared as of 2 January 1970. Unlike the health groups, however, the tobacco industry had the resources to continue to expand its advertising efforts in magazines, billboards, and other media.

The Rise of Nonsmokers' Rights

The focus of tobacco politics shifted away from the national level to the states in the mid-1970s. The tobacco industry had effectively contained legislation on cigarette advertising at the national level, but there was growing awareness that secondhand smoke was dangerous to nonsmokers. In 1975, after some limited legislation in Arizona restricting smoking in most public places such as government buildings and health facilities, freshman Minnesota Representative Phyllis Kahn introduced the first comprehensive state clean indoor air law. This legislation, which passed with relatively little opposition, prohibited smoking in public places except in smoking-designated areas, and required barriers and ventilation for smoking areas. While modest by twenty-first-century standards, the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act represented a real step forward and stimulated efforts to enact similar legislation elsewhere, particularly in California and Florida.

In California, a small group of local activists worked to pass local legislation modeled after the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, and passed the first such law in April 1977 in Berkeley. Following this success, they worked for several years to enact a state law through both the legislature and the initiative process, through a law is enacted by a direct vote of the people. Between 1977 and 1980 the tobacco industry spent more than $10 million opposing these efforts. Recognizing that they could not win in the state legislature or in an expensive state initiative campaign, which, in a large state like California, is essentially an advertising contest, Californians shifted their efforts to enacting local ordinances. The organization they created, which later became known as Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR), took the lead in grass roots organizing against the tobacco industry.

Across the country in Florida, local advocates were also passing local clean indoor air ordinances. In 1985 in Florida, in contrast to California, the tobacco industry, with the naive support of some health advocates, was able to pass a weak statewide law. This law appeared to address the problem of secondhand smoke but included preemption, which overturned the then-existing local tobacco control laws, effectively stopping local restrictions in Florida until 2002, when health advocates overturned the 1985 law with a voter-enacted initiative after a major state political campaign.

In the mid-1980s, as the local clean indoor air movement was gaining momentum, the tobacco industry responded with a national effort to pass weak state laws that preempted local tobacco control activity. The industry was successful in passing some form of preemption in 22 states. At the same time, however, local tobacco control advocates prevented preemption in the remaining 28 states. Despite increasingly sophisticated and aggressive use of third parties and front groups, initially in the hospitality industry, then expanding to gambling interests to fight local tobacco control laws, the tobacco industry often lost efforts to enact these laws. Between the early 1980s and 2004, the nonsmokers' rights movement has helped to pass clean indoor air ordinances in 1,675 municipalities across the United States (see Figure 2).

However, the tobacco industry did not limit its pursuit of preemption to clean indoor air ordinances. The tobacco industry co-opted a federal effort designed to make it more difficult for children to purchase tobacco, so-called youth access, as another vehicle to preempt local tobacco control efforts. In 1992, Congress passed the Synar Amendment requiring states to reduce the illegal sale rate of tobacco to minors to less than 20 percent of attempted sales or risk losing federal substance abuse block grants. In 1996, when the implementing regulations were issued, the tobacco industry pushed "compliance bills" that included preemption of more aggressive local youth access laws in many states. In some cases, the industry managed to use the debate over youth access to pass broad preemption that also preempted local clean indoor air ordinances.

National Politics

While most of the successes in tobacco control during the 1980s and 1990s were at the local or state level, there were still several important debates at the national level, where the tobacco industry continued to dominate the process through a combination of campaign contributions and well-connected lobbyists and allies. As of 2004, tobacco remained the only substance ingested by humans that was exempt from any federal regulation as a food, drug, or consumer product.

Contributions from tobacco interests (including contributions to federal candidates, political parties and noncandidate committees) increased from $7.8 million in 1997–1998 to $8.7 million in 1999–2000 to $9.4 million in 2001–2002, the most recent complete election cycle for which data are available. Tobacco companies spent an additional $91.1 million on lobbying between 1999 and 2003.

These expenditures have been effective investments for the tobacco industry because the industry has continued to prevent any meaningful action at the federal level. Bills were introduced in 2001 and debated during the 107th Congress to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products. A weak proposal supported by Philip Morris was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Representative Tom Davis (R-Va.). Frist accepted more than $2.2 million from the tobacco industry between 1999 and 2002 in his capacity as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Davis accepted more than $2.5 million between 1999 and 2002 in his capacity as chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, in addition to $14,000 in contributions for his personal reelection campaign. At the same time, Representatives Greg Ganske (R-Iowa), John Dingell (D-Mich.), and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) supported a stronger bill that granted substantial authority to the FDA to regulate tobacco. The 127 supporters of this bill accepted an average of $613 in tobacco industry campaign contributions compared with an average of $12,707 in tobacco industry contributions among the 17 supporters of the Frist/Davis bill. Neither bill passed.

In June 2000, tobacco industry dollars once again secured political allies during debate on funding for a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit against the tobacco companies. The intent of the lawsuit was to recover tobacco-related health care costs paid for by the federal government, similar to the successful state lawsuits that recovered tobacco-related healthcare costs incurred by state Medicaid programs. On 19 June 2000 during the first vote to provide funding for the lawsuit, 207 members of the House of Representatives who voted against the funding had accepted an average of $9,712 in tobacco industry contributions. In contrast, the 197 representatives who voted to approve funding for the lawsuit accepted an average of $1,750 in contributions since January 1997. This proposal also did not move forward, but the lawsuit continued.

State Politics

The states, sandwiched between the federal level where the tobacco industry dominated the political process and the local level where health advocates often prevailed, were battlegrounds in three areas: preemption, taxation, and, beginning in the mid-1980s, large scale tobacco control programs.

In 2002, Delaware became the first state to overturn preemption of local tobacco control laws after a long campaign by public health advocates. Voters in Florida enacted a state clean indoor air law through direct voter initiative that made all workplaces and public places (except bars) smoke-free, and other states began enacting state clean indoor air laws. As is true at the national level, the tobacco industry fought back using well-connected lobbyists and campaign contributions. Occasionally the tobacco industry's largesse backfired on them. For example, in 2003 in Connecticut, public health advocates successfully brought public attention to financial ties between the tobacco industry and the Speaker of the House who was blocking a bill to repeal preemption in that state. The result of the controversy was that the Speaker of the House introduced and championed a statewide clean indoor air law, thereby skirting the issue of preemption, which passed and went into effect in the fall of 2003 for restaurants and April 2004 for bars and cafes.

Similar to preemption, tobacco taxation is another area where the tobacco industry works at multiple levels. Federal tax increases on cigarettes, although beneficial in financial and health terms, rarely occur; the last increase in the federal cigarette tax was in 2001 when it only increased from 34 cents per pack to 39 cents per pack. However, after many years of relatively small tobacco tax increases, the fiscal difficulties that engulfed much of the United States in the early twenty-first century forced states to substantially increase the cigarette tax. Between 2001 and 2003, 33 states increased their cigarette tax; five states made two increases during that time period. One such state, New Jersey, had the highest tax rate at $2.05 per pack. The tobacco industry was unable to stop these taxes, but, despite the proven effectiveness of large-scale tobacco control programs, little of the money the taxes raised was devoted to helping smokers to quit or to prevent young people from starting. While the industry fights these tax increases, it also often uses them to mask price increases that exceed the tax, ensuring continued revenue growth for the companies.

Large-Scale State Tobacco Control Programs

Perhaps the most important innovation in tobacco control at the state level has been the emergence of large-scale tobacco control programs. Such programs represent the first real challenge to the tobacco industry's monopoly of the advertising medium since 1970 when the industry effectively removed antismoking advertising from television and radio when it had Congress enact the broadcast advertising ban that went in to effect. Minnesota developed the first state-funded antsmoking campaign in the United States in 1983 and implemented the program in 1985. The tobacco industry worked from the early stages of conception of the program to defeat it through campaign contributions and lobbying efforts and portraying the program as ineffective. It even developed its own "youth smoking prevention program," "Helping Youth Decide," that carefully avoided talking about the health dangers of smoking or the fact that nicotine was an addictive drug. In Minnesota, as elsewhere in the world, the industry presented its own ineffective programs as an alternative to meaningful tobacco control measures run by public health professionals. In addition, third party allies, such as the Teamsters Union, were recruited to defeat the tobacco control campaign. The tobacco industry also created a lobbying team made up of former state legislators and state employees with access to the legislative decision-making process, which allowed the industry to stay a step ahead of all plans for implementation of the program. While the industry did not prevent the program from beginning in 1985, its efforts to chip away at the program began to succeed in 1990 when the state legislature cut the program's budget from $1.5 million to $1 million. The election of Republican Governor Arne Carlson, whose ties with the tobacco industry included campaign contributions from industry lobbyists, and a 1996 outing in Australia financed by Philip Morris during Minnesota's case against the tobacco industry, led to the fall of the program in 1993. Carlson used inflated claims of a fiscal crisis, saying that the state was running out of money even as he was cutting taxes on the grounds that the state had more money than it needed; then he used the money "saved" by eliminating the tobacco control program for tax rebates.

The largest and longest surviving state program was created in California in 1988. After a hard-fought election campaign between health advocates and the tobacco industry, voters enacted an initiative known as Proposition 99, that increased the state tobacco tax by 25 cents per pack and allocated some of the revenues to fund tobacco education and prevention programs. The state Department of Health mounted an aggressive campaign that combined tough antismoking ads, many of which confronted the tobacco industry's decades of manipulation of the public and built a statewide infrastructure to support local tobacco control activities, particularly clean indoor air and encouraging organizations to refuse tobacco industry money. The program reduced cigarette consumption so rapidly that it produced a corresponding drop in smoking-induced heart attacks.

Encouraged by California's success, public health activists used the initiative process in several other states—Massachusetts, Arizona, and Oregon—to enact programs modeled on California.

The tobacco industry, however, did not accept these developments. In addition to fighting these initiatives at the polls, the industry used its considerable political muscle in state legislatures to hobble these programs by forbidding them from attacking the industry or working on policy change. In California the industry increased its campaign contributions dramatically and, working through allies in the California Medical Association (the political deal was that the tobacco industry would help the Medical Association enact favorable legislation on malpractice in exchange for its help in shutting down the tobacco control program), nearly destroyed the program. Only an aggressive attack on the California Medical Association and the governor led by the American Heart Association and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, combined with several lawsuits defending the program, saved it. Other states did not fare so well; despite the fact that the tobacco control programs were enacted by the voters and had demonstrated effectiveness, the tobacco industry lobbying efforts led to state budget cuts that virtually shut down the Massachusetts program in 2002 and the Oregon and Florida programs in 2003.

The federal government recognized that public policy interventions at the state and local level were the most promising way to lower the burden of disease and death cased by the tobacco industry. Between 1991 and 1999, the National Cancer Institute carried out a large-scale trial of this proposition through the American Stop Smoking Intervention Study (ASSIST) program. ASSIST provided funding to 17 states, awarded after a national competition, to build a local infrastructure to enact policy changes, including increased tobacco taxes and local clean indoor air laws. ASSIST represented the first large scale (although at a state level not as large as the large-scale tobacco control programs the states mounted themselves later), and represented a serious threat to the tobacco industry. Secret tobacco industry documents acknowledged that "ASSIST will hit us in our most vulnerable areas—in the localities and in the private workplace. It has the potential to peel away from the industry many of its historic allies" (<http://www.gaspforair.org/2000>) and "the antitobacco forces have developed a more sophisticated and well-funded structure to address local government affairs. . . . [ASSIST] guarantees that local matters will take increasing portions of our time and effort. . . . Thus our local plan is crucial" (<http://www.tobaccodocuments.org/1998>).

The industry mobilized aggressively against ASSIST by organizing tobacco vendors, company sales people, restaurateurs, grocers, convenience store owners, and other business organizations. These organizations were used to create accusations and divert attention from reducing tobacco use in the population to claims of "illegal lobbying" and used massive and targeted requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to burden tobacco control advocates with the task of copying documents rather than pursuing tobacco control. The results were also used in attempts to smear the work of ASSIST and other tobacco control organizations by claiming that these parties were using funds for "illegal lobbying." The industry also used its allies in Congress to put restrictions into law that restricted ASSIST's activities designed to promote public policy change to promote the public health.

Despite these attacks—and the corresponding reduction in effectiveness of ASSIST because it reduced its policy-related activities—ASSIST was successful in reducing tobacco use. ASSIST was associated with a decline in prevalence that could have resulted in 278,700 fewer smokers between 1991 and 1999 across the United States if ASSIST had been implemented nationwide.

Lawsuits Against the Tobacco Industry

A new front opened in the political battles between public officials and the tobacco industry in 1994 when the Attorneys General of Mississippi, Minnesota, and other states sued the tobacco industry to recover the costs of smoking paid by taxpayers and to stop other industry practices, particular predatory marketing against children. (These lawsuits were separate from private suits that had been in litigation with little success for years.) The industry opposed these suits not only in court, but also through the political process. In many states, the industry succeeded in preventing the attorneys general from spending state funds on the litigation (that led to the cases being pursued in cooperation with and financed by private lawyers). In Mississippi, the pro-tobacco governor even sued the attorney general in an unsuccessful effort to stop the suit, claiming that the suit was illegal since he never consulted with the governor.

None of these cases went all the way to a court verdict. Instead, all the cases were settled out of court, the first four states (Mississippi, Florida, Texas, and Minnesota) individually, and the remaining 46 states in the jointly negotiated Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) in 1998. These settlements imposed some restrictions on cigarette advertising (most notably, ending large billboards), established state antismoking programs in the states that settled individually, required the release of about 40 million pages of previously secret internal tobacco industry documents, and, most important, provided hundreds of billions of dollars to states into the indefinite future to partially reimburse the states for the costs of smoking through a complex formula based on cigarette sales.

The MSA and other settlements created the opportunity for every state to build a successful large-scale tobacco control program based on the successes of California, Massachusetts, ASSIST, and others. It remained up to the state legislatures—where the tobacco industry still wielded substantial political clout—to allocate some of the MSA money for tobacco control programs. In the early years after the settlements, some states did use the settlement dollars for tobacco control, but as of 2002, states were using less than 25 percent of the MSA payments for tobacco prevention and an even smaller portion of the state's total tobacco-related revenues. Most of the money went to anything but tobacco control, including capital projects, public works, and health services. By 2004, however, the threat of even these modest programs to the tobacco industry had greatly diminished. Programs in Florida and Minnesota established by their individual state settlements were eliminated (in large part because of the failure of health advocates in those states to mount the kind of aggressive defense that had rescued the California program a decade before), and funding in many other states had been cut.

Even worse from a public health perspective, the MSA created an unexpected alliance between the tobacco industry and some of the states that were more interested in protecting the cash flow of the MSA than reducing tobacco use. In the spring of 2003, 37 attorneys general (many of whom had been directly involved in negotiating the MSA) filed a brief of amici curiae in support of Philip Morris, which was attempting to avoid posting a $12 billion appeal bond after losing a private class action lawsuit in Illinois, claiming that its marketing of "light" and "mild" cigarettes defrauded the public. The attorneys general accepted the claim that posting a bond of this magnitude would jeopardize Philip Morris' ability to make its annual MSA payments to the states.

Beyond general support from the attorneys general due to financial interests, the tobacco industry built a solid alliance with members of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). RAGA was conceived by Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor in 1999 (Pryor was named a federal judge by President George W. Bush in 2004), as a means of defending against the alliances that some attorneys general had formed with private lawyers to sue the tobacco industry, providing an unfair advantage against the tobacco industry and threatening the entire business community. The links between the tobacco industry and RAGA were well hidden because RAGA was not required to report campaign contributions.

In many ways, the politics of the post-MSA era have marked a return to those of the late 1980s and early 1990s, with a resurgence of local tobacco control activities concentrated on clean indoor air. Probably the most important legacy of the litigation against the tobacco industry is the fact that more than 40 million pages of previously secret tobacco industry documents are now available to the public on the Internet. During its lawsuit against the industry, Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III doggedly pursued release of the tobacco industry's secret internal correspondence. He forced this material to be made public as part of the Minnesota settlement. Later, the MSA required that this material be placed on the Internet (<http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu>). These documents give an unprecedented view into the inner workings of the tobacco industry and its involvement in politics at the local, state, national, and international levels. While the practices of the tobacco industry have not drastically changed over time, access to the tobacco industry's internal documents has allowed the public to see how the tobacco industry does business and allowed health advocates to do a better job of countering the industry's activities.

International Politics

Three multinational corporations operating worldwide—Altria (Philip Morris), British American, and Japan Tobacco—dominate the tobacco industry. The combined opportunities created for these multinational corporations through globalization and through the reduction of smoking in the United States and other developed countries by tobacco control advocates have led the tobacco industry to increasingly focus its efforts on the developing world. As in the United States, these tobacco companies, and their smaller cousins, aggressively use politics to protect and promote their interests, using the same techniques as in the United States: well-connected lobbyists, political money, and third party front groups and allies.

For example, in the mid-1980s, the tobacco industry faced a significant challenge in the European community, which was proposing legislation to end tobacco advertising and promotions. The tobacco industry recognized the economic consequences of such an action and began to forge alliances with third parties, including the International Chamber of Commerce, the Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe, and several members of the communications and business communities, as well as friendly governments, most notably Germany, against the legislation. While these strategies were not successful in preventing the passage of the ban on advertising and promotion, a case brought by Germany led the European Court of Justice to strike the legislation in 2000.

Similar to the tactics of the tobacco industry in the United States, Philip Morris and Brown & Williamson developed an international network of scientists secretly funded by the tobacco industry and managed by Covington and Burling, the law firm that handles much of the tobacco industry's political work in the United States, to conduct research to refute the dangers of secondhand smoke in the mid-1990s. This network successfully delayed the spread of clean indoor legislation to Latin America and other parts of the world.

The industry faced its strongest international challenge in the late 1990s, when the World Health Organization began using its treaty-making powers for the first time to create the first international public health treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The goal of the FCTC is to create a framework to be implemented at all levels of government to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, thereby decreasing the health, social, environmental, and economic consequences. To accomplish this goal the FCTC envisions bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, including requiring the placement of prominent and strong health warnings on all tobacco packages, banning the use of deceptive terms such as "light" and "mild," protecting the public from exposure to secondhand smoke in all public places, increasing tobacco taxes, and working to prevent cigarette smuggling, which is often organized with the active participation of the multinational cigarette companies as a way to penetrate new markets and bypass national tobacco control laws.

The tobacco industry actively monitored the treaty development and worked through national governments in sympathetic countries, most notably the United States (particularly after the pro-tobacco George W. Bush administration took power), Germany, and Japan. The industry also applied standard tactics such as working through third parties and front groups to lobby for weakening the treaty by eliminating key provisions. In the end, a concerted effort led by countries in the developing world and nongovernmental organizations in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere forced the United States, Germany, and Japan to back down, and the treaty was approved by the World Health Assembly in 2003. However, the treaty must be ratified by the participating countries for it to go into effect, and this process will take substantial time and will face opposition in many countries orchestrated by the tobacco industry (often acting through other third parties), including the United States.


The politics surrounding tobacco are often characterized as a tug-of-war between the tobacco industry and the public health community. The tobacco industry works to pull the issue up the hierarchy of the political system, knowing that its greatest chance for victory is at the federal level since it is the most concentrated area of government, furthest from the people, and most susceptible to tobacco industry lobbyists and campaign contributions. Working down the political system to state and local governments, health advocates increase their chances of making progress in tobacco control as the tobacco industry cannot be in all places at all times and because, in a highly visible public political fight, local politicians are more sensitive to the public's desire to be protected from the tobacco industry than to tobacco industry money. The industry has responded by increasing its efforts to stay in the background and work through other organizations such as "hospitality associations." Local tobacco control advocates tend to be successful when they can expose these connections and frame the issue as local citizens against Big Tobacco.

See Also Doctors; Insurance; Toxins.



Aguinaga-Bialous, Stella, and Stanton A. Glantz. Tobacco Control in Arizona, 1973–1997. Tobacco Control Policy Making: U.S. Paper AZ1997. San Francisco, Calif: Center for Tobacco Control and Research at University of California, 1997.

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. Available: <http://www.no-smoke.org>.

Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids. Available: <http://www.tobaccofreekids.org>.

Committee of Experts on Tobacco Industry Documents, World Health Organization, "Tobacco Company Strategies to Undermine Tobacco Control Activities at the World Health Organization" (July 1, 2000). Tobacco Control. WHO Tobacco Control Papers. Paper WHO7. <http://repositories.cdlib.org/tc/whotcp/WHO7>.

Dearlove, J. V., Stella Aguinaga-Bialous, and Stanton A. Glantz. "Tobacco Industry Manipulation of the Hospital Industry to Maintain Smoking in Public Places." Tobacco Control 11 (June 2002): 94–104.

Gasp for Air. Available: <http://www.gaspforair.org/gasp/gedc/artcl-new.php?ID=74>.

Givel, M. S., and Stanton A. Glantz. "Tobacco Lobby Political Influence on United States State Legislatures in the 1990s." Tobacco Control 10 (June 2001): 124–34.

Glantz, Stanton A., et al. The Cigarette Papers. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1996.

Glantz, Stanton A., and Edith Balbach. Tobacco War: Inside the California Battles. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2000.

Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition. Available: <http://www.smokefreecoalition.org/utils/printArticle.asp?id=358>.

Pringle, Peter. Cornered: Big Tobacco at the Bar of Justice. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1998.

Siegel, M., et al. "Preemption in Tobacco Control. Review of an Emerging Public Health Problem." Journal of the American Medical Association 278 (10 September 1997): 858–863.

Tobacco Scam. Available: <http://www.tobaccoscam.ucsf.edu>.

UCSF Legacy Library. Available: <http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu>.

Medicaid a public health program in the United States through which certain medical expenses of low-income persons are paid from state and federal funds.


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The term politics derives from the ancient Greek word polis, meaning city-state, the main form of political community in ancient Greece. We continue to use the term even though few city-states remain in existence. A commonsense understanding of the term is illustrated by this analogy: Politics is to the polis what athletics is to athletes. Just as the world of athletics is subdivided into different types of sport, politics comes in numerous modes and orders: democratic, tyrannical, constitutionalist, oligarchic, theocratic, bureaucratic, fascist, authoritarian, and so on.

However, everyday language is not a reliable guide to defining politics, because we regularly apply the term to practices that are not political. We speak of office politics, locker-room politics, or the politics of high school cliques. These usages are too broad and fail to distinguish politics as a unique activity, distinct from business, sports, social interactions, and so on. In order to gain a more comprehensively scientific understanding of the meaning of politics, it is helpful to consider two basic components: (1) the character of political activity and (2) the scope of political activity.


Politics has been defined in numerous ways. The philosopher Plato (c. 428348 bce) defined it as the art of caring for souls, meaning that the duty of political rulers is to cultivate moral virtue or excellence in their citizens. Numerous thinkers throughout history have reiterated Platos view. The medieval theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas (c. 12241274), who closely studied the philosophy of Platos student Aristotle (384322 bce), characterized politics as the activity of bringing together diverse individuals and groups, including doctors, economists, professors, and priests, each with their own talents and characteristics, into a unity: The object for which a community is gathered is to live a virtuous life. For men to consort together that they may thus attain a fullness of life which would not be possible to each living singly: and the full life is one which is lived according to virtue (Fuller 2000, p. 85). Both Plato and Aquinas were concerned with cultivating virtue and living a good life. Aquinas further emphasizes the synthetic or architectonic dimension of politics as the activity of building coalitions and maintaining harmony among the constituent parts of political society. Politics for Plato and Aquinas reflects humanitys sociable nature.

Ancient and medieval thinkers emphasized the moral purpose of politics (the why) and the means of reaching that purpose (the how), while modern thinkers, including contemporary political scientists, are more likely to emphasize only means (the how). For example, the Renaissance thinker Niccolò Machiavelli (14691527) wrote in The Prince that it is unrealistic for princes to provide moral guidance to citizens because politics requires rulers to perform unjust deeds to ensure the security and glory of the state, including such acts as treating ones friends as subjects and killing family members if necessary. Machiavelli thus introduced what would later become known as the fact-value distinction into the study of politics. It states that facts are the only objects that can be analyzed empirically and with certainty, while values are less certain. Thomas Hobbes (15881679) provided what in the early twenty-first century one would consider a more scientific understanding of politics. His method was to deduce political principles from general and abstract theories. In his view humans resembled atoms, and human behavior was matter in motion, whose principle mode of behavior was self-preservation. Unlike Plato and Aquinas, Hobbes regarded humans not as social but as asocial. He sums this up in his famous formulation of human behavior:

So that in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power that ceaseth only in death. And the cause of this is not always that a man hopes for a more intensive delight than he has already attained to, or that he cannot be content with a moderate power, but because he cannot assure the power and means to live well, which he hath present, without the acquisition of more. (Hobbes 1996, p. 70)

This general principle of human behavior leads Hobbes to characterize the activity of politics as the pursuit of peace and security, not as the perfection of human social inclinations. While Hobbes was not what in the early twenty-first century one would call a liberal democrat, his theory laid the foundations for liberal democracy by making consent the basis of government. He also placed politics on a lower (and in his eyes, more stable) ground than earlier thinkers by making peace and security its purpose, not the cultivation of virtue and community.

Machiavelli and Hobbess distinction between the moral purpose of politics and the pragmatic pursuit of power can be seen in some twentieth-century definitions of politics, which deemphasize moral excellence in favor of the use of power and the distribution of goods within a community. The French thinker Bertrand de Jouvenel (19031987) defined politics as the activity of gathering and maintaining support for human projects: We should regard as political every systematic effort, performed at any place in the social field, to move other men in pursuit of some design cherished by the mover (Jouvenel 1963, p. 30). Allan Ball emphasizes conflict in his definition: [Politics] involves disagreements and the reconciliation of those disagreements, and therefore can occur at any level. Two children in a nursery with one toy which they both want at the same time present a political situation (Ball 1971, p. 20). Harold Lasswell emphasizes distribution in his treatment of politics, as reflected in the title of his 1936 treatise Politics: Who Gets What, When, and How.

While these definitions have their benefits, they fail to distinguish political activity from other forms of activity. This is especially true for Balls definition, which provides little guidance on the difference between a nursery and a nation-state like the United States. More promising is Bernard Cricks definition of politics as the activity by which different interests within a given unit of rule are conciliated by giving them a share in power in proportion to their importance to the welfare and the survival of the whole community (Crick 1972, p. 22). This definition recalls Aquinass characterization of politics as unifying different parts of society. By mentioning survival, Crick also alludes to the fact that a political society requires a large degree of autonomy, in a way that a smaller unit, such as a family, lacks. By mentioning welfare, which is broader than survival, he also indicates that a political society is organized around a set of goals and principles.


The activity of politics, then, consists of a continuous attempt to fashion a unity from a diverse set of competing interests and talents. Beyond this, any analysis of politics needs to move to a more concrete level. Politics, as the activity of the polis, depends on the form the political community takes. Political actions such as the conciliation of interests would take different forms in Nazi Germany, for example, and a liberal democracy like the United States. In the former, power is based on a personality cult surrounding Adolf Hitler for the purpose of furthering the utopian ideal of a Third Reich. In the latter, coalitions of interests form and compete with one another in a law-based constitutional system. In the former, politics is seen as something that will in fact cease once the utopia is reached (this is true of any utopian system). In the latter, politics is assumed to be a never-ending activity of negotiation and bargaining, on the assumption that a diversity of opinions and interests will always exist.

Political thinkers have devised a variety of methods for evaluating the differences among political systems. Plato distinguished five regimes, ranked according to the degree to which each is just. In descending order, they are the just city governed by philosopher kings, timocracy (ruled by warriors), oligarchy (ruled by the wealthy), democracy (ruled by the many), and tyranny (Plato 1991, pp. 449a592b). Aristotle distinguished six different regimes according to who rules and for what purpose. He identified three good and three corrupt systems: (1) monarchy and tyranny, (2) aristocracy and oligarchy, (3) polity, or constitutional democracy, and mass democracy (Aristotle 1984, pp. 1288b101296b15).

Plato and Aristotles typologies are based on the polis. Modern scholars have developed typologies that attempt to organize the different forms the modern state takes. Three separate axes can be identified: (1) the interpenetration of state and society, (2) whether the state is presidential or parliamentary, and (3) whether the state is federal or unitary (Dickerson and Flanagan 1998, pp. 209310; Finer 1999, pp. 14731484).

The first axis considers the extent to which state institutions and civil society are autonomous. For example, liberal democracies prize pluralism, which requires a multiplicity of political parties competing for power as well as a wide array of independent schools, newspapers, and other sources of opinion. Totalitarian governmentsfor example, that of Hitlerattempt to control all facets of society, including universities, newspapers, unions, and businesses. Totalitarian states permit only one party, which purportedly speaks for the nation.

The second axis considers the composition of the representative institutions. In a presidential system like the United States, the central government is divided into three branches: executive (the president), legislative (Congress), and judicial (the Supreme Court). These three branches balance one another to ensure that no single branch of government possesses complete power. In a parliamentary system like that of Great Britain, executive power (the prime minister and cabinet) is more fused with legislative (the House of Commons). According to the doctrine of responsible government, the prime minister and cabinet must continually maintain the confidence of the House of Commons, which has the power to dissolve the government. Dissolution can occur at any time, in contrast to the U.S. presidential system, where members can only be removed by election or, in extreme circumstances, by impeachment.

The third axis reflects the territorial size of a society. In ancient Greece the polis was not divided into states or provinces because city-states were small enough for government to exert control over its territory and maintain solidarity among its citizens. Modern nation-states are considerably larger in size, which poses special challenges for controlling territory and promoting social solidarity. A federal state splits up the nation-state into states or provinces and hands over to those small units specific powers appropriate to them while maintaining the powers necessary to address national concerns. Large nations such as the United States and Canada have a federal system, while smaller nations such as Great Britain are unitary. Federal systems are based on the view that citizens will have greater solidarity with those who live nearby and who share common ways of life, though this view is less salient when a society has a highly mobile population.


The political analysis of major thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Hobbes attempted to combine the empirical study of politics with normative concerns, though the latter two dissolve that combination somewhat. Politics is studied in the early twenty-first century at the academic level in departments of political science. While the term political science is a translation of Aristotles politike episteme, modern usage, with the emphasis on science, reflects the attempt, begun by Hobbes, to study politics according to the methodologies of the physical sciences.

The division of most departments of political science into four subfields of analysis reflect this methodology. Political philosophy, which focuses on normative questions of political life, is one subfield. International relations considers the complexities of the international order, including law, organizations, war, and political economy. Comparative politics examines the politics of various countries and regions of the world. A fourth subfield examines the politics of the native country, so, for instance, every political science department in the United States has an American politics subfield, and their counterparts in Canada have Canadian politics subfields.

Political scientists frequently step outside of their subfields. This is most true of political philosophy and its relation to other fields, as few political phenomena can be separated from their normative dimensions. For instance, the study of power requires one to consider why a political actor seeks power, and these reasons usually depend on that actors particular understanding of justice. As a result, political science involves the study of the good society, just as it did for Plato 2,500 years ago.

SEE ALSO American Political Science Association; Aristotle; Campaigning; Conflict; Elections; Electoral Systems; Elites; Hobbes, Thomas; Lasswell, Harold; Machiavelli, Niccolò; Participation, Political; Party Systems, Competitive; Plato; Political Science; Political System; Political Theory; Power Elite; Power, Political


Aristotle. Politics. 1984. Trans. Carnes Lord. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ball, Alan R. 1971. Modern Politics and Government. London: Macmillan.

Crick, Bernard R. 1972. In Defense of Politics. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Dickerson, Mark O., and Thomas Flanagan. 1998. An Introduction to Government and Politics: A Conceptual Approach. 5th ed. Scarborough, ON: International Thomson Publishing.

Finer, Samuel E. 1999. The History of Government. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fuller, Timothy, ed. 2000. Leading and Leadership. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Hobbes, Thomas. 1996. Leviathan, ed. Richard Tuck. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. (Orig. pub. 1651.)

Jouvenel, Bertrand de. 1963. The Pure Theory of Politics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Lasswell, Harold D. 1958. Politics: Who Gets What, When, and How. New York: Meridian Books.

Machiavelli, Niccolò. 1998. The Prince. 2nd ed. Trans. Harvey C. Mansfield. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Orig. pub. 1532.)

Minogue, Kenneth. 1995. Politics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Plato. 1991. The Republic of Plato. 2nd ed. Trans. Allan Bloom. New York: Basic Books.

John von Heyking


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In January 2007 Nancy Pelosi became the first woman to serve as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Her achievement signified the continued advancement of women, but it also underscored the historical disparity between the sexes in terms of political agency and opportunity. Political questions about sex and gender require an understanding of the relationship between enfranchisement and representation, activism and advocacy, and authority. Women have historically possessed positions of leadership, but these powers were consistently contested, marginalized, and violated. The emergence of political rights in modern Europe and North America has increased women's political freedoms, but women still endure underrepresented and disproportionately held leadership. Initial progress of women to high, elected, national offices has occurred in third-world political settings—Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), India, and Israel are the best examples—where emergent, postcolonial, nation-states are providing enhanced opportunities for female participation in the process of universal franchise.


In Greco-Roman society the state (polis) was deeply interconnected with the household (oikos). Males controlled both entities, with the husband, as the head of the household (or the paterfamilias), ruling over his wife, children, and slaves. Based on his understanding that men and women are naturally different (predicated on biological notions of sperm as the seed of life), Aristotle (384–322 bce), in his Politics, affirms the husband as the ruler, for "the male is by nature fitter for command than the female," and thus there is a permanent inequality between them. Supposed to have distinctive natures women were disqualified from citizenship because "the natures of the citizens are equal, and do not differ at all"; thus, women could not participate in the political life of the community. Aristotle argues that men and women could both possess virtue, but he envisages this virtue as manifested differently and with political implications: "the courage of a man is shown in commanding, of a woman in obeying." Within Greek tragedy Sophocles's (c. 496–406 bce) Antigone depicts a woman's struggle to honor her commitments to her family and properly bury her brother Polyneices despite its prohibition by the political ruler Creon (no traitors can receive a proper burial). Though her sister Ismene protests that women cannot challenge political authority ("You ought to realize we are only women, not meant in nature to fight against men, and that we are ruled, by those who are stronger"), Antigone defiantly determines that such resistance is necessary and ultimately suffers death by her own hand (and not by a political means). Judith Butler (2000) retrieves Antigone as a model to examine the relationship between sex, gender, kinship, progressive feminism, and politics.

In early Christian communities women did have some leadership roles. As part of his ministry to challenge unjust social structures, such as patriarchal privilege, Jesus invited women to join his movement. Wealthy women facilitated the development of Christianity by providing space for house churches. Nonetheless, numerous scriptural passages proscribe preaching and teaching by women. Women such as Perpetua (d. 203 ce) became martyrs for the church, but the narratives (written by men) that recorded their feats depicted them as becoming like males in their willingness to suffer and die for their beliefs. In the Middle Ages (476–1350) women served principally as procreative agents and as manual laborers. Denied access to the education that occurred in cathedral schools and in newly established universities, women were not able to secure economic, political, or religious positions of power. Women were governed by strict civil codes, dominant autocratic powers, feudal lords, or ecclesial structures.


In the early modern period, monarchial systems of government were often restrictive and harsh, but they did enable women through familial right and political alliances to ascend to leadership. In Great Britain Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I ruled in the sixteenth centuries, laying the groundwork for Queen Anne (eighteenth century), Queen Victoria (nineteenth century), and Queen Elizabeth II (present day); in Russia, Catherine II (the Great) reigned during the eighteenth century and rebuilt the country. With increasing modernization and the rise of the nation-state, women monarchs gradually became merely symbolic figures. In the early twenty-first century, countries such as Japan still refuse to accept the legitimacy of a woman monarch (regardless of the sex of the firstborn heir).

The Enlightenment (1600–1800) ushered in political, legal, and economic systems that promoted individual autonomy, rationality, progress, and rights, as well as social contract theory. Tolerance, self-determination, and equality constituted central political values, but women did not fully benefit from such values. In his Two Treatises on Government (1690), John Locke proposes a model of a European liberal constitutional state characterized by limited, nontyrannical government, private property, and natural freedom and rights. Yet, as did Aristotle centuries before (though with a greater recognition of shared powers), Locke describes paternal power as normative. Carole Pateman (1988) argues that presuppositions of domination and subordination along gendered lines are embedded in the supposedly gender-neutral social contract theory and European and North American liberalism. The writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, notably her Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790) and Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), appeal to Enlightenment ideals of rationality and equality to promote the political rights of women. Nevertheless, Wollstonecraft holds that the British constitutional structure created class divisions and that women needed wider educational opportunities and property rights. Nearly a century later the English philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) wrote The Subjection of Women (1869), a treatise dedicated to promoting the equality of men and women. Mill notes the burgeoning political protests of women in Europe and in the United States seeking to attain this equality.


Protests by women helped to mobilize political change in the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) had specifically referred to the denial of males aged twenty-one and older the right to vote as unconstitutional; women challenged this narrow construal of political citizenship. Suffrage for women at the federal level occurred in the United States in 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. This achievement was made possible only through the efforts of women activists and reformers. Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848 helped to galvanize the women's suffrage movement at the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. The convention culminated in The Declaration of Sentiments, which concluded:

Now in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation—in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.

                          (Stanton 1881, pp. 70-71)

Susan B. Anthony advocated for women's voting and social rights on constitutional grounds and, with Stanton, founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. Ida B. Wells (1862–1931) led an antilynching campaign and resistance to gender and racial injustice. Jane Addams (1860–1935) addressed social justice and urban poverty by establishing the Hull-House in Chicago. Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) served in the League of Women Voters and the Women's Trade Union League.

The Nineteenth Amendment signaled progress, but it further demonstrated a substantial political chasm along sex and gender lines. The right to vote for women came fifty years after African-American males had gained the franchise through the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and seventy-two years after the Seneca Falls Convention. Even after women had achieved the universal franchise, they faced political, legal, and social obstacles. Local communities attempted deterrent mechanisms, such as poll taxes and voting tests, all of which violated the constitutional right of enfranchisement. Despite these obstacles women gradually achieved greater political participation. In 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933–1945) appointed the first woman to a cabinet position, designating Frances Perkins (1882–1965) to head the Department of Labor. Jeane Kirkpatrick (1926–2006) served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1981 to 1985, and Madeleine Albright (1997–2001) and Condoleezza Rice (b. 19954) served as secretary of state in the 1990s and the first decade of the twenty-first century, respectively. In the 110th U.S. Congress of 2007, there were eighty-seven women, with sixteen women in the Senate (16 percent of the seats) and seventy-one in the House of Representatives (16.3 percent of the seats).


In terms of international developments, the United Nations Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1952) promoted and protected the freedoms and rights of women. The first three articles secure women's entitlement to vote on equal terms with men, women's eligibility for election to all publicly elected bodies, and women's entitlement to hold public office and to exercise all public functions established by national law. In several countries women have used grassroots organizations to help transform totalitarian regimes and dictatorships into democratic governments. For example, Jeong-Lim Nam (2000) discusses the contributions that women—formally excluded from the political process—made in the South Korean transition to democracy in the 1980s. Women demonstrated on the grounds of human rights, social justice, and democratic freedoms and utilized interunion solidarity strikes and labor union activities. Women have increasingly participated in global protests and global conferences to identify the central political issues impacting women.

Through the work of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), women have also influenced the formation and implementation of international law. For example, the efforts, advocacy, and leadership of the Women's Caucus for Gender Justice at the Rome Conference (1998) on the International Criminal Court helped establish codified punishments for the crimes of mass rape and forced pregnancy. Nonetheless, the continued practices of honor killings, female infanticide, and female genital mutilation demonstrate the oppressive character of tradition and political authority. Autocratic powers, whether in the form of monarchies or military regimes, govern women strictly and do not afford enfranchisement. Countries such as Saudi Arabia continue to deny women the right to vote.

Since the mid-1960s a number of women have ascended to political leadership. Prominent examples include Indira Gandhi, prime minister of India (from 1966 to 1977 and from 1980 to 1984); Golda Meir, prime minister of Israel (from 1969 to 1974); Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of Great Britain (from 1979 to 1990); Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany (elected 2005); and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, president of Liberia (elected 2006). Since the 1970s women have held presidencies or prime minister positions in Bangladesh, Chile, Finland, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Sri Lanka—where Sirimavo Bandaranaike was appointed the world's first female prime minister upon her husband's assassination in July 1960—and Turkey. These positions have principally been in the so-called developed or first-world countries; by contrast, women in the so-called developing or third-world countries have endured significant marginalization from political structures.


Feminist thinkers have engaged a number of lenses and interlocutors in discussing sex, gender, and politics. Feminist theories of politics have appealed to Karl Marx's (1818–1883) theories of class struggle, oppositional consciousness, and historical materialism, and Michel Foucault's (1926–1984) genealogies of knowledge, sexuality, and power. Other feminists insist that politics should attend more fully to a care approach (focusing on relationships and trust) rather than a justice approach (focusing on universal, rational principles). Contemporary debates about democracy and gender focus on questions of difference. Whether construed in terms of race, gender, class, ethnicity, or other distinguishing factors, dimensions of difference have resulted in identity politics. Feminist thinkers such as Iris Marion Young, however, prefer the term politics of difference, holding that "political claims asserted from the specificity of social group position, and which argue that the polity should attend to these social differences, often serve as a resource for rather than an obstruction of democratic communication that aims at justice" (2000, p. 82). Hence, Young argues, there is need for pluralistic representation to address and engage constructively these differences.

Seyla Benhabib also addresses questions of difference, and she critiques the tradition of European and North American political thought that has differentiated public and private in extreme terms. The deconstruction of the female self has occurred through public rhetoric that has assumed household duties, reproductive choices, and care for the young as exclusively private and thereby inaccessible to public political discourse and debate. Benhabib insists that these putative distinctions are false dichotomies and deleterious to women's participation in society: "Challenging the distinction of contemporary moral and political discourse, to the extent that they privatize these issues, is central to women's struggles which intend to make these issues 'public'" (1992, p. 108). Women must continue to struggle to exercise their political voices.


Aristotle. 1947. Politics, trans. Benjamin Jowett. In Introduction to Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon. New York: Modern Library.

Benhabib, Seyla. 1992. Situating the Self: Gender, Community, and Postmodernism in Contemporary Ethics. New York: Routledge.

Butler, Judith. 2000. Antigone's Claim: Kinship between Life and Death. New York: Columbia University Press.

Henderson, Sarah L., and Alana S. Jeydel. 2007. Participation and Protest: Women and Politics in a Global World. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mill, John Stuart. 2004 [1869]. The Subjection of Women. London: Kessinger Publishing.

Nam, Jeong-Lim. 2000. "Gender Politics in the Korean Transition to Democracy." Korean Studies 24: 94-112.

Pateman, Carole. 1988. The Sexual Contract. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady; Susan B. Anthony; Matilda Joslyn Gage; and Ida Husted Harper, eds. 1881. A History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. 1. New York: Fowler and Wells.

United Nations. 1952. "Convention on the Political Rights of Women." Available from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/22.htm.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. 2004 [1792]. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, ed. Miriam Brody. London: Penguin.

Young, Iris Marion. 2000. Inclusion and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

                                          Charlotte Radler


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Beginning in 1970, the "environmental decade," a swift and sweeping transformation in American law radically reshaped U.S. pollution control policies. This regulatory revolution was mounted on three political foundations: skillful pressure-group politics, effective legislative advocacy, and aroused public concern about environmental degradation. These traditional American political techniques promoted, and continue to shape, contemporary pollution control through U.S. political governmental institutions.

The Political Foundations: Pressure-Group Politics

Americans and their public officials paid scant attention to growing evidence of environmental degradation across the nation until the late 1960s. Air and water pollution control was considered the responsibility of state and local governments. Most states did little more than set drinking water standards to protect public health from a few contaminants like bacterial diseases, fearing that more aggressive control of air and water pollutants would inhibit economic growth and drive resident business and industry to other states. Such mounting environmental degradation as the Cuyahoga River fire and Love Canal focused national attention on the need for environmental restoration. This was translated into bold new governmental policies largely by environmental pressure groups during the 1960s and 1970s.

The strength of the new environmental movement lay in organized political activism, coalition building, and legislative advocacythe fundamentals of effective group politics. The focus of this political pressure was primarily the federal government with its vast authority and resources for creating nationwide pollution control. No single event dramatized the environmental movement's rise to national importance more than the first Earth Day in April 1970a nationally televised Washington rally witnessed by 35 million Americansthat swiftly elevated public awareness of environmental degradation while advertising, especially for public officials, environmentalism's newly acquired political clout.

Pressure-Group Politics Old and New

Environmentalism's political strength depends on its leadership's skill in creating a broad and diverse alliance of interests to support environmental advocacy. The environmental movement embraces a great diversity of influential organizations, including traditional conservation groups like the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation, established public health advocates like the American Cancer Society, newly formed environmental pressure groups like the Environmental Defense Fund and Friends of the Earth, major labor unions, public interest science organizations, and countless local organizations. Additionally, environmentalists are proficient recruiters. After the first Earth Day, environmentalist organizations multiplied and enriched their political resources, often creating innovative new organizational forms and strategies. Prior to 1970, fewer than twenty-five significant national environmental groups existed with a combined membership approaching 500,000of these, perhaps a half-dozen organizations were important participants in national policymaking. Several hundred influential national environmentalist groups are politically active; five of the most importantthe Audubon Society, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, and Wilderness Societyalone have a combined membership exceeding seven million. Although all the major organizations use the sophisticated resources of pressure-group politicsmass-mailing technology, skilled media specialists, and full-time legislative lobbyiststhe environmental movement has also benefited by developing specialized legal advocacy groups, like the National Resources Defense Council, staffed primarily with lawyers and scientific experts committed exclusively to litigation that establishes important legal precedents and enforces pollution-control regulations for environmental protection.

Creating and Mobilizing Public Opinion

The radical transformation of U.S. pollution-control laws would have been impossible without strong, consistent public pressure on federal and state governments, especially on the Congress and state legislators. Current public opinion polls suggest that more than 80 percent of Americans agree with the goals of the environmental movement. The strength of this support is suggested by other polls consistently reporting since 1980 that more than two-thirds of the public believe environmental protection should be a major government priority, even at the risk of reducing economic growth. The breadth and depth of this ecological consciousness are remarkable, considering that few Americans understood the implications of ecology or the nature of domestic environmental pollution only a few decades ago. The most important political impact of this vigorous public environmentalism is on the electoral system: Candidates for major federal and state office are now customarily expected to support strong pollution controls and other ecologically protective policies, at least in principle. While Americans often disagree vigorously over pollution control methods, air and water pollution regulation itself is now an enduring component of the "American political consensus"those policies Americans overwhelmingly view as the essential responsibility of their government.

A Regulatory Revolution: The Environmental Decade

The design of U.S. air and water pollution control was crafted in federal law during the "environmental decade" between 1970 and 1980. Responding to dramatic media revelations of ecological deterioration, growing environmental group pressure, and voter concerns, Congress laid the legislative foundation for all contemporary regulation through six statutes: The Clean Air Act Amendments (1970), the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments (1972), the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974), the Toxic Substances Control Act (1976), and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund) in 1980. Altogether, the Congress wrote or amended nineteen major environmental laws in this remarkable decade. And by changing the law, Congress also reordered its political underpinning.

Federal Leadership

The laws listed above radically recast the U.S. approach to pollution management. Most important, the federal government assumed the primary responsibility for air and water pollution regulation; Washington set national pollution standards and supervised their implementation, thus defining pollution control priorities and prescribing acceptable control methods. The Clean Air Act, for example, now requires all states to control at least six dangerous pollutants (sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, lead, particulates, and volatile organic compounds) and a rapidly growing list of other substances currently believed to be "air toxins." The act additionally mandates that car manufacturers install pollution-control devices on all new automobiles. The new pollution laws also extended federal protection to the natural environment instead of exclusively to human health and safety. The Toxic Substances Control Act, for example, authorizes the federal government to regulate the manufacture, sale, or use of any chemical presenting "an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment."

Regulatory Federalism

Regulatory federalism has become a fundamental regulatory principle. This means that Washington prescribes national pollution standards and control procedures, but allocates the appropriate resources to states so they assume the primary responsibility for implementing and enforcing these requirements. States are then said to exercise "delegated authority." Using delegated authority, for instance, thirty-eight states as of 2002 issue permits for water pollution discharges required by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments and forty-nine states certify pesticides for local use as required by the Federal Environmental Pesticides Control Act (1972). Thus, the states assume an essential and highly influential role in national pollution regulation; pollution policymaking continually requires negotiation, conflict, and cooperation between the states and Washington.

New Regulatory Agencies

New federal agencies were created, and others reorganized, to implement these new control programs. The most important federal pollution control entity is now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), created in 1972. The EPA is the nation's largest regulatory agency with 18,000 employees, a 2002 budget exceeding $7.5 billion, and responsibility to fully or partially implement all the nation's important pollution control laws. In 1970 the President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), a much smaller agency, was created within the White House to advise the President on environmental affairs. At the same time, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was created within the U.S. Department of Commerce to conduct research on and monitoring of ocean and atmospheric pollution. The authority and staff of many other federal agencies concerned with environmental quality, such as the Department of the Interior, were also vastly expanded to implement new pollution control programs. These agencies also provide research support and grants to the states to facilitate the enforcement of pollution control laws. The EPA, for instance, has distributed more than $150 billion in grants to state and local governments to upgrade their sewage treatment systems.

New Policymaking Procedures

Federal pollution laws created new, often controversial, regulatory procedures. The most contentious of these is risk assessment the process used by regulatory agencies to determine if a substance constitutes a sufficient threat to human health and safety, or to the environment, to require control. Federal pollution laws, including the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and Superfund, require the EPA or other responsible agencies to conduct such risk assessmentsusually focused on the risk of canceron thousands of chemicals never previously evaluated according to the rigorous new standards. Risk assessments proceed slowly due to the huge number of substances involved, a lack of basic information about their distribution and impact, and intense controversy about the appropriate procedures for the assessments.

Federal pollution legislation has also vastly increased opportunities for the public, and particularly environmental advocacy groups, to become informed and involved in federal environmental decision making. Major federal pollution laws such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts removed a major legal impediment to public involvement in pollution control by granting individuals and organizations standing to sue federal and state agencies for failure to enforce pollution control laws. Almost all federal environmental laws also require the responsible federal and state agencies to actively inform the public and to provide numerous opportunities for public comment and review of contemplated regulations.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, it is apparent that the environmental movement permanently and comprehensively altered the law and politics of U.S. pollution regulation. Pressure-group politics, public opinion, and congressional legislation were the powerful driving forces in this change. The result was unprecedented, aggressive federal leadership in an active national program of pollution control based on federally mandated pollution standards and pollution controls. By promoting new national pollution control laws and agencies, expanded opportunities for public involvement in pollution regulation, and vigorous public concern for environmental degradation, the environmental movement has created a continuing "environmental era."

see also Activism; Brower, David; Carson, Rachel; Citizen Suits; Earth Day; Environmental Impact Statement; Government; Industry; Laws and Regulations, United States; Legislative Process; National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); New Left; Progressive Movement; Public Participation; Public Policy Decision Making; Risk.


Buck, Susan J. (1996). Understanding Environmental Administration and Law, 2nd edition. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

Cohen, Richard E. (1995). Washington at Work: Back Rooms and Clean Air, 2nd edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Graham, Mary. (1999). The Morning after Earth Day: Practical Environmental Politics. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

Marzotto, Toni; Moshier Burnor, Vicky; and Bonham, Gorden Scott Bonham. (2000). The Evolution of Public Policy: Cars and the Environment. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Rosenbaum, Walter A. (2002). Environmental Politics and Policy, 5th edition. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.

internet resource

Project on Teaching Global Environmental Politics Web site. Available from http://webpub.alleg.edu/employee.

Walter A. Rosenbaum


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Constitutions are fundamentally linked to the character of politics. At the most obvious level constitutions structure the political process. The United States Constitution defines who may serve in various elected offices, the terms of office (the frequency of election), the number of representatives, and the manner of their election. But, as important if not as obvious, constitutions in general and the United States Constitution in particular are also shaped by basic concerns about the character of politics and its malfunctions or evils. These concerns are reflected in the structures of politics established in the Constitution, the debates about the Constitution, and the evolution of constitutional law over the last two hundred years.

Two basic visions of political malfunction—one that stresses fear of the many (majoritarian bias) and one that stresses fear of the few (minoritarian bias)—coexist in traditional American views of government and constitutional history. Minoritarian bias supposes an inordinate power in the few at the expense of the many. Political power and influence, whether gained by graft, propaganda, or campaign support, often require organization and resources. Here a majority, each of whose members suffers only small loss from a government action, can be at a significant disadvantage to a minority with large per capita gains. The total loss to the majority may far outweigh the gains to the minority, but if the per capita loss is small enough, members of the majority may not even recognize that loss. Even if a member of the majority knows of the proposed legislation and recognizes its dangers, each individual has small incentive to spend time or money in organizing others. These efforts are further frustrated by the likelihood that other members of the majority will be inclined to "free ride" (i.e., refuse to participate or assume that others will carry the load).

Majoritarian bias is a completely opposite response to the same skewed distribution of impacts that characterizes minoritarian bias. Here the numerical majority, with its small per capita interests, imposes disproportionate losses on an intense, concentrated minority. The difference between majoritarian and minoritarian bias lies in suppositions about the political process. If we suppose that everyone understands and votes his interests and if we assume a political process that counts votes for or against but does not consider the severity of impact or the intensity of feeling about the issue, a low-impact majority can prevail over a high-impact minority, even though the majority gains little and the minority is harmed greatly. The power of the many lies simply in numbers, and malfunctions arise because the few are disproportionately harmed.

Concerns about both majoritarian and minoritarianbias have been with Americans throughout their constitutional history, from the framing of the original Constitution to the modern era. The period of the framing and ratification of the constitution shows clear concern about these forms of bias. Indeed, the two opposing constitutional positions of the time federalism and anti-federalism—can be defined by differences in their concern about majoritarian and minoritarian bias.

The authors of the federalist recognized the existence of both forms of bias, expressed concern about both, but seemed to worry more about majorities. james madison, in particular, placed great emphasis on the dangers of the majority in Federalist #10:

If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is applied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote: It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute or mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government on the other hand enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest, both the public good and the rights of other citizens.…

The majority … must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression.…

A pure Democracy, by which I mean, a Society, consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the Government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction.

Madison's comments reveal the major Federalist response to the perceived danger: the removal or insulation of federal government decision makers from local populations. They sought this insulation in several ways. First, the decision makers were physically distanced. The national capital was generally much farther from most citizens than was the seat of state or local government; physical distance was no small factor at a time when travel was so difficult. Second, each of the decision makers was to represent a large number of constituents, thereby making organization of a majority more difficult. Third, they served for relatively long terms, ranging from two to six years, so that their constituents had infrequent access through the ballot box and a complex record to decipher and judge. Fourth, the Senate and President were indirectly elected—the Senate by state legislatures and the President by the electoral college.

The opponents of the Federalists, the more heterogeneous Antifederalists, appeared far more concerned about minoritarian bias. The Antifederalists feared that indirectly elected senators serving long terms would devolve into an aristocracy and combine with the indirectly elected President to allow an easy conduit for "the advantage of the few over the many." In response, they sought rotation in office, shorter terms, the possibility of recall, and easier impeachment. They also feared that the House of Representatives was insufficiently numerous to enable it "to resemble the people" and therefore would be subject to influence and corruption. They feared "the superior opportunities for organized voting which they felt to be inherent in the more thickly populated areas." They feared that a Supreme Court not subject to popular control would favor the rich. These fears were all signs of concern about minoritarian bias.

The tension between the Federalist and Antifederalist positions centered significantly on the controversy over the relative roles of large and small jurisdictions—in particular, the role of the states in relation to the national government. The Federalists, who feared the power of the majority more than that of the minority, believed in a strong national government and the indirect election of government officials. The Antifederalists believed in small jurisdictions and feared that as government grew larger and more remote, the concentrated few would subvert the process.

The Federalist and Antifederalist positions both possess inadequacies and inconsistencies. Antifederalists can be seen as heirs to the tradition of classical republicanism. They envisioned a republic small in size, with a small and homogeneous population. The great problem for the Antifederalists was the extrapolation of republican ideals to a large, dispersed, and heterogeneous population. They did not have an alternative for a national government.

For the Federalists, whose vision of government was more directly embodied in the Constitution, the problems were both more subtle and more important. Madison and the Federalists stressed government on a relatively large scale, with political decision makers (legislators and executives) removed from the mass of the populace both by distance and by mode of selection. The analysis of political malfunction employed here suggests that to the extent that the Federalist structure achieved the insulation of officials from the general populace, it traded one bias for another.

Greater distance, more complex modes of selection, and larger, more diverse constituencies provide protection from the masses but not complete isolation. Other paths of influence—and therefore sources of bias—remain and in fact flourish. The more complex setting enhances the power of organization and the accumulation of funds and helps cover underhanded dealings. Isolation provides respite from the masses but far easier access to concentrated minorities. In other words, greater insulation of public officials may purchase protection from majoritarian bias by increasing the potential for minoritarian bias.

Madison and the Federalists were not necessarily wrong to emphasize majoritarian over minoritarian bias. The correct choice depends on a number of factors (such as size of the jurisdiction or complexity of the issues) that may make one or the other bias more likely. It is intriguing to wonder whether the correct choice might be different if one were writing a constitution on a clean slate for the larger, more complex United States of the late twentieth century than it was for the United States of Madison and the Federalists.

The tradeoffs and tensions between majoritarian and minoritarian bias have surfaced elsewhere in American constitutional history. The famous footnote four from united states v. carolene products co. (1938), where the Supreme Court set out the general outlines of modern constitutional law, is a microcosm of these tradeoffs and tensions. Footnote four reads:

There may be narrower scope for operation of the presumption of constitutionality when legislation appears on its face to be within a specific prohibition of the Constitution, such as those of the first ten amendments, which are deemed equally specific when held to be embraced within the Fourteenth.

It is unnecessary to consider now whether legislation which restricts those political processes which can ordinarily be expected to bring about repeal of undesirable legislation, is to be subjected to more exacting judicial scrutiny under the general prohibitions of the fourteenth amendment than are most other types of legislation. On restrictions upon the right to vote; on restraints upon the dissemination of information …; on interferences with political organizations …;asto prohibition of peaceable assembly.…

Nor need we enquire whether similar considerations enter into the review of statutes directed at particular religious, or national, or racial minorities; or whether prejudice against discrete and insular minorities may be a special condition, which tends seriously to curtail the operation of those political processes ordinarily to be relied upon to protect minorities, and which may call for a correspondingly more searching judicial inquiry.

Examined from the perspective of the tension between majoritarian and minoritarian bias, the various components of Carolene Products—the holding of the case and the principle concerns expressed in the footnote—are very much interrelated.

inCarolene Products the Court applied minimal scrutiny to uphold the economic regulation before it. The legislation at issue in Carolene Products banned the interstate sale of "filled milk," skim milk supplemented with nonmilk fats such as coconut oil. It does not take much scrutiny to see the dairy lobby at work behind the passage and enforcement of the Filled Milk Act. Indeed, the dairy industry's efforts to employ legislation to keep "adulterated" products from grocery shelves and vending booths have a long history. It is perhaps not too uncharitable to suggest that concern for the dairies' pocketbooks rather than for the consumer's health best explains the dairy lobby's efforts: the dairy industry benefited from reduced competition and the resultant higher prices paid by consumers.

The holding of the case abandons serious judicial review of economic regulation, thereby leaving dispersed majorities like consumers without direct judicial protection from the minoritarian bias that can characterize governmental decisions about economic regulation like that in Carolene Products itself. Seemingly in response to these concerns, paragraph two of the Carolene Products footnote promises indirect aid to dispersed majorities by strengthening their access to and participation in the political process. By protecting access to information, organization, and the vote, the Court focused on activities that would decrease the relative advantage of concentrated interests that trade upon their superiority in gathering information, organizing, and gaining access to power through nonvoting channels.

Yet, although these protections reduce minoritarian bias, they may do little for, and in fact aggravate, majoritarian bias. Government officials whose manipulations of programs reflect the will of a majority have little to fear from public exposure or an expanded franchise. Majoritarian bias is generated when simple democracy works too well. The majority knows its interest and votes it. Because that interest is unweighted, however, a minority suffers substantial losses for disproportionately small gains to the majority. From this vantage, judicial responses like the basic rule of American voting rights—one person, one vote—are well suited to the dissipation of minoritarian bias, but can reinforce majoritarian bias. In the extreme, if it were possible to fully perfect the process by making every citizen totally aware of his or her own interest and able immediately to translate that interest into an effective vote, minoritarian bias would disappear, but majoritarian bias would be worse.

Paragraph three of the Carolene Products footnote responds to the need to protect against this danger of majoritarian bias by promising special judicial examination of those actions most likely infected by majoritarian bias. Subsequent equal protection law decisions made these concerns a central feature of modern constitutional law.

These important historical episodes indicate that the character of constitutions and the character of politics are tightly interwoven. Constitutions determine, and are determined by, the character of politics.

Neil K. Komesar

(see also: Conservatism; Federalists; Jacksonianism; Jeffersonianism; Liberalism; Populism; Pragmatism; Progressivism; Republican Party.)


Komesar, Neil K. 1984 Taking Institutions Seriously. University of Chicago Law Review 51:366–446.

——1987 Back to the Future—An Institutional View of Making and Interpreting Constitutions. Northwestern Law Review 81:191–219.

——1987 Paths of Influence—Beard Revisited. George Washington Law Review 56:124–135.

——1988 A Job for the Judges: The Judiciary and the Constitution in a Massive and Complex Society. Michigan Law Review 86:657–721.


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pol·i·tics / ˈpäləˌtiks/ • pl. n. [usu. treated as sing.] the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, esp. the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power: the Communist Party was a major force in French politics thereafter he dropped out of active politics. ∎  the activities of governments concerning the political relations between countries: in the conduct of global politics, economic status must be backed by military capacity. ∎  the academic study of government and the state: [as adj.] a politics lecturer. ∎  activities within an organization that are aimed at improving someone's status or position and are typically considered to be devious or divisive: yet another discussion of office politics and personalities. ∎  a particular set of political beliefs or principles: people do not buy this newspaper purely for its politics. ∎  (often the politics of) the assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, esp. when concerned with power and status in a society: the politics of gender.PHRASES: play politics act for political or personal gain rather than from principle.

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