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Black Mayors, White Majorities

The Balancing Act of Racial Politics

Ravi Perry

Publication Year: 2014

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of African Americans elected to political office in cities where the majority of their constituents are not black. In the past, the leadership of black politicians was characterized as either “deracialized” or “racialized”—that is, as either focusing on politics that transcend race or as making black issues central to their agenda. Today many African American politicians elected to offices in non-majority-black cities are adopting a strategy that universalizes black interests as intrinsically relevant to the needs of their entire constituency.

In Black Mayors, White Majorities Ravi K. Perry explores the conditions in which black mayors of majority-white cities are able to represent black interests and whether blacks’ historically high expectations for black mayors are being realized. Perry uses Toledo and Dayton, Ohio, as case studies, and his analysis draws on interviews with mayors and other city officials, business leaders, and heads of civic organizations, in addition to official city and campaign documents and newspapers. Perry also analyzes mayoral speeches, the 2001 ward-level election results, and city demographics. Black Mayors, White Majorities encourages readers to think beyond the black-white dyad and instead to envision policies that can serve constituencies with the greatest needs as well as the general public.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xi

List of Tables

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pp. xii-xii

List of Figures

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xx

The ideas expressed and researched in this book began as I was a high school student in Ohio. There, in Lucas County, I was actively in-volved in local and regional politics. A reliable volunteer for many candidates in my home county, I was infatuated with politics, so much so that the study of politics became my academic interest while I was ...

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pp. xxi-xxxviii

...john a. powell, ?Obama?s Universal Approach Leaves Many Excluded?As you read this, somewhere history is being made. Somewhere, right now, in the United States, an African American is considering run-ning for mayor in a city wherein his or her constituents are mostly white. Somewhere else in the country, perhaps, another black politi-...

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1 A Way Out of No Way

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pp. 1-20

By the 1970s and 1980s political scientists began examining the im-pact of black mayors. Did black mayors live up to the black commu-nity?s expectations? Were black mayors successful in delivering on their campaign promises? H. Paul Friesema was one of the early com-mentators to caution about the high level of black expectations, warn-...

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2 The Model of Ohio

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pp. 21-40

Every group, when it reaches a certain population percentage, automatically takes over. . . . They don?t apologize . . . they just move in and take over.Ohio politics has generated signifi cant interest from scholars seek-ing to observe political behavior throughout the nineteenth and ear-ly twentieth centuries.1 The early twenty-fi rst century also brought ...

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3 An Ebb and Flow System

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pp. 41-74

There?s racism. . . . There is still a large percentage of this country as [there] is here in Toledo that is racist. They stereotype African American males by their manner of dress, by the clothes that they wear, and by the Described by native Toledoan and author P. J. O?Rourke as a city ?in the middle of nowhere,? Toledo is not often the focus of signifi cant ...

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4 Are We “to Be” or Not?

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pp. 75-106

It is a struggle; for though the black man fi ghts passively, he nevertheless fi ghts; and his passive resistance is more e? ective at present than active resistance could possibly be. He bears the fury of the storm, as does the The history of race and politics in Dayton has been marked not by gradual progress toward better social and political harmony but rath-...

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5 “Lowest and Best” (and Black) Bids

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pp. 107-124

As Jack Ford closed his inaugural address as Toledo?s fi rst black may-or in January 2002, he quoted Isaiah 58: ?House the homeless, clothe the naked, lift the yokes of oppression from the disinherited.? He if we do these things.?1 Ford?s biblical reference refl ected the govern-ing mode and priorities of his administration. Elected in November ...

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6 Strong Housing Support and a Weak Mayor

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pp. 125-154

When you talk about all these issues, even though I?m the mayor of color, it?s across the board. There is only in the city, to your constituency, an east and a west, but to me as the mayor, they?re all my constituents.November 2001 with 51 percent of the vote, managing to defeat a popular two-term incumbent, Mike Turner. She became the fi rst fe-...

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7 Trickle-Up Public Opinion

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pp. 155-178

I think the mayor is 100 percent dedicated to what she feels is right, Mayor Ford of Toledo and Mayor McLin of Dayton were both fi rst elected under similar conditions in 2001. In both cities severe budget shortfalls, struggling public schools and downtowns, and a lack of corporate leadership posed serious challenges. And both cities elect-...

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8 Racial Populism

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pp. 179-198

I believe in diversity. I teach it. I work it. I live it. A mayor should appoint directors and commissioners who believe in diversity and hold them I also want to recognize Mayor Smith and her colleagues in Kettering for another joint e? ort between our two cities. Together we held a series of meetings dealing with issues of race and reconciliation. The three-part ...

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9 Target Practice

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pp. 199-212

The role of black leadership [in the twenty-fi rst century] should begin with the acknowledgement of its limitations. The limitations include the leader-ship?s inability to solve every conceivable problem facing the [black] community. It should recognize that the black community?s problems are of black interests extended beyond their State of the City speeches ...

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pp. 213-215

In No Name in the Street, from which this book?s introductory epigraph civil rights racial status. In it Baldwin talks about the race problem: ?It has been vivid to me for many years that what we call a race prob-lem here is not a race problem at all: to keep calling it that is a way of avoiding the problem. The problem is rooted in the question of how ...

Appendix A

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pp. 216-220

Appendix B

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pp. 221-254


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pp. 255-292


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pp. 293-312


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pp. 313-323

Other Works in the Series

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pp. 324-324

E-ISBN-13: 9780803249462
E-ISBN-10: 0803249462
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803245365

Page Count: 360
Illustrations: 12 photographs, 1 chart, 6 figures, 15 tables, 2 appendixes
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 867741879
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Black Mayors, White Majorities

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Social conditions.
  • Municipal government -- United States.
  • African American mayors.
  • African Americans -- Politics and government.
  • United States -- Race relations -- Political aspects.
  • United States -- Politics and government.
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