How does congress represent the interests of American Americans? Must blacks be represented by blacks to be properly heard? How do members of Congress respond to the needs of blacks in their districts, and what do congressional voting records reveal? In this incisive book Carol Swain examines the problems of representing the interests of African ...Read MoreHow does congress represent the interests of American Americans? Must blacks be represented by blacks to be properly heard? How do members of Congress respond to the needs of blacks in their districts, and what do congressional voting records reveal? In this incisive book Carol Swain examines the problems of representing the interests of African Americans by studying the constituency relations and roll-call voting of black members of congress from a variety of districts - historically black, newly black, heterogeneous, and primarily white-and of white members from districts with either a black majority or a significant black minority. Included are analyses of well-known figures such as William Gray, Ron Dellums, Lindy Boggs, and Peter Rodino as well as others such as Mike Espy, Mississippi's first black member of Congress since Reconstruction; Robin Tallon, a white moderate from South Carolina who has succeeded in winning broad support among blacks; and Alan Wheat, a black serving a Missouri district that is 80 percent white. What strategies, Swain asks, are most likely to lead to greater representation of black interests? She challenges the proposition that only African Americans can represent black interests effectively, and shows that creating additional black-majority districts is in any case a limited possibility. She contends that an increase in the number of black representatives in the near future can come only from the election of blacks in predominantly nonblack districts. In addition, she argues, blacks must form coalitions with white representatives to serve black needs. BLACK FACES, BLACK INTERESTS is a major contribution to our understanding of the capacity of the Americanpolitical system to respond to the varied and complex interests of African Americans. Scholars and others interested in public affairs will discover valuable lessons for the future in black politics, campaigning, the workings of Congress, minority voting rights, and representatiRead Less
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