12 photographs, 8 illustration
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.