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Black Republicans and the Transformation of the GOP
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Black Republicans and the Transformation of the GOP

Joshua D. Farrington

328 pages | 6 x 9 | 16 illus.
Cloth 2016 | ISBN 9780812248524 | $47.50s | Outside the Americas £38.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Politics and Culture in Modern America

"Farrington . . . remind[s] us that the great migration from the 'party of Lincoln' did not happen all at once—or once and for all. A significant minority of African-Americans resisted the appeal of the New Deal, and many of those who embraced Franklin Roosevelt continued to vote Republican in down-ballot races. National politics provide Farrington with a sturdy frame, but what makes his book special is his painstaking re-creation of scores of little-known state and local activists and a lost world of two-party competition."—New York Times Book Review

"Farrington's history of African Americans in the Republican Party provides nuanced insight into the fluidity of both the black political landscape and the GOP, two groups that whose political histories have often been over-determined. . . . This story of seemingly paradoxical black Republicans is much needed in this political moment."—Atlanta Studies

"Joshua D. Farrington has given scholars, pundits, and the general public the timeliest book yet about how the GOP purged itself of racial minorities and cast its lot with America's declining white majority. A book that is at once complex and clear, Black Republicans and the Transformation of the GOP is a must read for any student of politics or history interested in how the GOP's failed answers to the race question have pushed a once-great national party to the brink of political self-destruction."—Devin Fergus, The Ohio State University

"Drawing impressively on a wide range of primary sources, underpinned by a mastery of the relevant historiography, Black Republicans and the Transformation of the GOP is full of fascinating detail about how black Republicans worked hard to push their party toward engagement with issues of civil rights."—Robert Mason, University of Edinburgh

Reflecting on his fifty-year effort to steer the Grand Old Party toward black voters, Memphis power broker George W. Lee declared, "Somebody had to stay in the Republican Party and fight." As Joshua Farrington recounts in his comprehensive history, Lee was one of many black Republican leaders who remained loyal after the New Deal inspired black voters to switch their allegiance from the "party of Lincoln" to the Democrats.

Ideologically and demographically diverse, the ranks of twentieth-century black Republicans included Southern patronage dispensers like Lee and Robert Church, Northern critics of corrupt Democratic urban machines like Jackie Robinson and Archibald Carey, civil rights agitators like Grant Reynolds and T. R. M. Howard, elected politicians like U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke and Kentucky state legislator Charles W. Anderson, black nationalists like Floyd McKissick and Nathan Wright, and scores of grassroots organizers from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Black Republicans believed that a two-party system in which both parties were forced to compete for the African American vote was the best way to obtain stronger civil rights legislation. Though they were often pushed to the sidelines by their party's white leadership, their continuous and vocal inner-party dissent helped moderate the GOP's message and platform through the 1970s. And though often excluded from traditional narratives of U.S. politics, black Republicans left an indelible mark on the history of their party, the civil rights movement, and twentieth-century political development.

Black Republicans and the Transformation of the GOP marshals an impressive amount of archival material at the national, state, and municipal levels in the South, Midwest, and West, as well as in the better-known Northeast, to open up new avenues in African American political history.

Joshua D. Farrington teaches history and African American Studies at the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University.

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