Professor James B. Jennings, Ph.D.
Director of the William Monroe Trotter Institute
The University of Massachusetts at Boston
Several demographic and economic developments in the United States point to a continuing preoccupation with issues related to race in this country. The state of race relations will be discussed and debated for a long time to come, based on the fact that racial and ethnic diversity is increasing in this nation, and also due to a situation where blacks in many places have yet to enjoy the fruits of economic opportunity available to other groups. Dr. Sharon Wright’s study of black struggles for social and economic influence in a Southern city represents an important break-through for understanding historical antecedents to contemporary situation, as well as insight for possible future directions in urban politics.
The author’s utilization of descriptive data and statistical analysis highlights relationships between institutions, culture, and political behavior. Her review of journalistic accounts of Memphis politics gives the reader insight into the racial thinking that is prevalent in some sectors of this city. Dr. Wright’s command of urban affairs theory and literature provide a framework for placing events related to black politics in Memphis in a conceptual framework that is coherent and comprehensive.
Dr. Wright shows a keen understanding and scholarly involvement with key political developments in Memphis which allow her to provide important insights with the reader about the successes and failures of black political mobilization. This study shows that the struggle for black political influence at the local level continues despite significant progress—and, retrogression—in the area of civil rights in the national arena. Thus, while this study focuses on one city, its lessons are applicable to