Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress

Overview

In this incisive book Carol Swain explores what strategies are most likely to lead to greater representation of black political interests. She studies the constituency relations and roll-call voting of black members of Congress from a variety of districts—historically black, newly black, heterogeneous, and primarily white—and of white members from districts with either a black majority or a significant black minority. She challenges the proposition that only African Americans can represent black interests ...

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Overview

In this incisive book Carol Swain explores what strategies are most likely to lead to greater representation of black political interests. She studies the constituency relations and roll-call voting of black members of Congress from a variety of districts—historically black, newly black, heterogeneous, and primarily white—and of white members from districts with either a black majority or a significant black minority. She challenges the proposition that only African Americans can represent black interests effectively, and argues that blacks must form coalitions with white representatives to serve black needs. Swain has updated this edition with a new chapter entitled "Black Congressional Representation since 1992."

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This study by Swain, an African American political scientist at Princeton University, is invaluable because it works on several levels. For those interested in black politics, her book presents insights into the activities of black congressional representatives on the Hill and in their districts. In this context, it is much like William L. Clay's Just Permanent Interests ( LJ 2/1/93). But while Clay's book tends to be impressionistic and anecdotal, Swain utilizes the methods of social science, including interviews, field observations, and analysis of voting records. However, Swain also attempts to solve the riddle of whether black interests are adequately represented and who can best represent them. She compares the behavior of black and white representatives serving historically black, newly created black, and heterogeneous districts and also considers blacks who serve majority-white districts. Her major conclusions, among them that whites can effectively represent black interests and that blacks must form coalitions with white representatives to serve black needs, will surprise many, for they challenge a number of prevailing assumptions about the appropriate ways of representing black interests. Strongly recommended for academic and large public political science collections.-- Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Booknews
Swain (politics and public affairs, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton U.) examines the problems of representing the interests of African- Americans by studying the constituency relations and roll-call voting of black members of Congress from a variety of districts--historically black, newly black, heterogeneous, and primarily white--and of white members from districts with either a black majority or a significant black minority. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674076150
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1993
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.43 (w) x 9.59 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol M. Swain is Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
I The Context
1 The Representation of Black Interests in Congress 3
What Is Representation? 5
What Are Black Interests? 5
Who Supports the Interests of Blacks on Capitol Hill? 13
2 Tracing the Footsteps of Blacks on the Hill 20
The Reconstruction Era 21
The Twentieth Century 29
II Black Representatives
3 Black Representatives of Historically Black Districts 47
The Thirteenth District of Michigan: George Crockett 49
The Second District of Pennsylvania: William Gray III 59
Historically Black Districts and Electoral Security 72
4 Black Representatives of Newly Black Districts 74
The Second District of Mississippi: Mike Espy 75
The Fifth District of Georgia: John Lewis 89
Newly Black Districts and the Need for Biracial Coalitions 97
5 Black Representatives of Heterogeneous Districts 98
The Thirty-First District of California: Mervyn Dymally 99
The Sixth District of New York: Floyd Flake 108
What Are the Constraints of Heterogeneous Districts? 115
6 Black Representatives of Majority-White Districts 116
The Fifth District of Missouri: Alan Wheat 116
The First District of Indiana: Katie Hall 127
The Eighth District of California: Ron Dellums 133
The Potential for Electing More Black Representatives in White Districts 140
III White Representatives
7 White Representatives of Minority-Black Districts 145
The Sixth District of South Carolina: Robin Tallon 147
The Second District of North Carolina: Tim Valentine 159
A Delicate Balancing Act: Southern White Representation of African Americans 168
8 White Representatives of Majority-Black Districts 170
The Second District of Louisiana: Lindy (Corinne) Boggs 171
The Tenth District of New Jersey: Peter Rodino, Jr. 179
An Extinct Group 188
IV Implications
9 Strategies for Increasing Black Representation of Blacks 193
Factors Influencing Black Political Gains in Congress 193
Racial Gerrymandering 197
Why Question the Strategy? 200
Black Representation and the Republican Party 205
10 The Future of Black Congressional Representation 207
Preconditions of Increased Black Representation 207
The Special Characteristics of Black Representatives 217
What Lies Ahead? 222
Appendix A. Research Methods 227
Appendix B. Campaign Finance, 1980-1990 232
Appendix C. Legislative Records of All Black Representatives, 100th Congress 234
Notes 237
Index 267
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