FORA Culture

Season 2008 Episode 0212

Race and National Politics in America

Full Episode: Race and National Politics in America


Full Episode Summary

Race and National Politics in America: A Historical Prospective with Greggory Keith Spence.Greggory Keith Spence, Professor in Professional Practice at The New School, delivers a lecture on race and national politics in the United States.Race has played a major role in national politics since the founding of the United States. The three-fifths clause of the Constitution dramatically increased the power of the Southern states: It guaranteed them one-third more seats in Congress than their free population warranted, resulted in the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800, and gave slaveholders control of the presidency for fifty years and of the Speaker's chair and the chairmanship of House Ways and Means for forty years.During the nation's first sixty-two years, the only presidents reelected (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson) were slaveholders, as were eighteen of thirty-one Supreme Court justices. Of the seven justices who delivered the majority opinion in the Dred Scott decision, a majority were slaveholders.The post-Reconstruction era saw the rise of Jim Crow, the establishment of the Black Codes, and the active suppression of the African-American vote both regionally and nationally. The twentieth century was well into its sixth decade before the rise of the civil rights movement, a progressive U.S. Supreme Court, a succession of activist presidents, and the post-War World II population migration of African-Americans from the South to the large cities of the North, Midwest, and West changed the national political dynamic.In the last twenty-five years, a number of African-Americans have risen to national prominence (Shirley Chisholm, Colin Powell, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley Braun). We will explore the implications of recent statewide races (from Doug Wilder in Virginia to Deval Patrick in Massachusetts) and of Obama's presidential candidacy both for African-Americans and for the nation as a whole - The New Schoolmoreless
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