"As the first elected black mayor of a major U.S. city, Cleveland's Carl B. Stokes embodied the transformation of the civil rights movement from a vehicle of protest to one of black political power." In this political biography, Leonard N. Moore examines the convictions and alliances that brought Stokes to power. Impelled by the problems plaguing Cleveland's ghettos in the decades following World War II, Stokes and other Clevelanders questioned how the sit-ins and marches of the civil rights movement could correct the pervasive employment discrimination, police brutality, substandard housing, and de facto school segregation that African Americans in the country's northern urban centers viewed as evidence of their oppression.
In 1967, Carl Burton Stokes (1927-96) became the first African American elected a big-city mayor. His two four-year terms as Cleveland's leader (beginning in 1967 and 1971) marked not merely the city's turnaround from near death but a shift in the Civil Rights Movement, black life, and big-city politics, argues Moore (history, Louisiana State Univ.). Deftly mixing biography with local urban history, Moore details Stokes's struggle as a civil rights veteran to transform Northern black protest into urban black political power that made a difference in the lives of the frustrated black middle class and the disenfranchised lower classes. Confronting de facto segregation, brutally biased law enforcement, inadequate housing, lack of jobs, and unresponsive social welfare, Stokes defined an agenda for black political mobilization in America's central cities, Moore shows. A powerful portrait of the history and politics of rust belt cities, Moore's work updates Stokes's autobiography, Promises of Power, and serves as a good contrast to recent analyses of race and U.S. cities, such as Heather Ann Thompson's Whose Detroit? Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City. Highly recommended for civil rights, local, and urban history collections. Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.