Leah Wright Rigueur
The Loneliness of the Black Republican
Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power
Princeton University Press 2015
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network August 16, 2015 Lilian Calles Barger
Leah Wright Rigueur is an assistant professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Her book The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power (Princeton University Press, 2015) examines how the Grand Old Party of Lincoln lost its position as the home of the African American vote. Covering more than four decades beginning in Roosevelt’s New Deal to Ronald Reagan’s presidential election, Rigueur examines the ideas and actions of black Republican activists, officials, and politicians to build and remain within the Party’s shrinking tent. Marginalized within their own communities and party, black Republicans fought political battles on two fronts. They continually sought to include black needs and interest in the changing formulation of conservatism. Their stories reveal an alternative approach to economic and civil rights within a party increasingly hostile to racially progressive ideas as it wooed the white vote. Rigueur introduces us to republican views of many including the Senator Edward Brooks, Robert J. Brown, Jackie Robinson and black organizations such as National Black Republican Council and the National Negro Republican Assembly. Black republicans dealt with numerous issues including ensuring black political participation, individual rights, economic opportunity, and racial equality. Rigueur has given us a thought-provoking examination on the failure of the Republican Party to live up the legacy of Lincoln, and to respond to its black members who remained committed to the conservative ideals of free enterprise, individual initiative, and limited government.