Black Mayors, White Majorities: The Balancing Act of Racial Politics

By Ravi K. Perry | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
The Model of Ohio
Political History and Demographic
Change in a Rust-Belt State

Every group, when it reaches a certain population percentage, automatically
takes over.… They don’t apologize… they just move in and take over
.

Harold Washington

Ohio politics has generated significant interest from scholars seeking to observe political behavior throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.1 The early twenty-first century also brought reasonable scholarly attention to the state’s politics because of both historically significant and contemporarily relevant issues.2 In addition, the Midwest rust-belt cities of Dayton and Toledo are significant as their histories explain the context in which Ford and McLin developed their political profiles. I chose to focus on Dayton and Toledo also because of the limited scholarly and contemporary research on those cities, particularly concerning the variable of race in such medium-sized, majority white cities.3 Dayton, in southwest Ohio, with a 2010 population of 141,527, is 43 percent African American, and Toledo, in northwest Ohio, with a 2010 population of 287,208, is 27 percent African American. The cities are comparable in population to many cities in which Americans live. Finally, the cases of Dayton and Toledo represent a number of Ohio cities in which black mayors were elected in the early twenty-first century. As table 1 indicates, every major city in Ohio (except Akron) elected a black mayor at the turn of the twenty-first century, beginning with Michael Coleman in Columbus in 1999.4

-21-

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