The Liberal State: What Retreat?
An Examination of Philosophical
Ambivalence and Continuity
in Perspectives and Treatment
of African Americans in the
U.S. Political System
Melanie Njeri Jackson
A survey of the African American political landscape during the post-Civil Rights decades reveals a common and pervasive sense of the inadequacy of strategies pursued to remedy the legacy of racism responsible for enduring social, political, and economic inequalities that distinguish the lives of African Americans.1 African Americans, including black elected officials, social activists, and social scientists, share a sense of desperation and frustration with regard to the promise of liberalism, despite the accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement. Despite the diversity of African American political thought and practice, the consolidation of the Civil Rights agenda (with its emphasis on electoral politics and interest group pluralism in the liberal democratic state) gave primacy to activities which create theoretical and practical dilemmas that have both served and witnessed the deteriorating conditions of a significant proportion of the African American commu