African Americans and the Presidency: The Road to the White House

African Americans and the Presidency: The Road to the White House

African Americans and the Presidency: The Road to the White House

African Americans and the Presidency: The Road to the White House


African Americans and the Presidency explores the long history of African American candidates for President and Vice President, examining the impact of each candidate on the American public, as well as the contribution they all made toward advancing racial equality in America. Each chapter takes the story one step further in time, through original essays written by top experts, giving depth to these inspiring candidates, some of whom are familiar to everyone, and some whose stories may be new.

Presented with illustrations and a detailed timeline, African Americans and the Presidency provides anyone interested in African American history and politics with a unique perspective on the path carved by the predecessors of Barack Obama, and the meaning their efforts had for the United States.


From the first beginning of the United States the vote was often denied to two classes of citizens—African Americans and women. African Americans received citizenship and civil rights protection with the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1868; the second section of that amendment included a male-only proviso that resulted in most states denying women the vote. With the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1870 black men no longer could be barred from voting due to race but not until passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1920 was denial of the vote to women prohibited. Over the years the Supreme Court, state laws, and white racism united to curtail black voting despite constitutional guarantees.

African Americans responded by challenging discriminatory voting restrictions, notably in Texas, and in 1944 the U.S. Supreme Court declared the white primary unconstitutional in Smith vs. Allwright. In 1965 the Voting Rights Act protected and enhanced the black vote in southern states by providing federal marshals and registrars to oversee voting in that region of the nation.

With that historically negative picture, imagine the thrill and sense of history we (and a huge number of other Americans) felt during the spring of 2008 when it became obvious that a white woman or a black man could triumph over the obstacles and become a major party candidate for the presidency of the United States. As specialists in the history of African Americans in the United States, the editors were excited spectators when as the days progressed it appeared that the junior senator from Illinois, Senator Barack Obama, would become the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency . . .

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