9th Edition

American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom

By Hanes Walton, Jr Copyright 2021
    484 Pages 77 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    484 Pages 77 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This dynamic and comprehensive text from nationally renowned scholars continues to demonstrate the profound influence African Americans have had—and continue to have—on American politics. Using two interrelated themes—the idea of universal freedom and the concept of minority–majority coalitions—the text demonstrates how the presence of Africans in the United States affected the founding of the Republic and its political institutions and processes. The authors show that through the quest for their own freedom in the United States, African Americans have universalized and expanded the freedoms of all Americans.

    New to the Ninth Edition

    • Updated sections on intersectionality, dealing with issues of race and gender.

    • Updated section on African American music, to include the role of Hip Hop.

    • Updated sections on mass media coverage of African Americans and the African American celebrity impact on politics, adding new mention of the CROWN Act and the politics of Black hair.

    • Updated section on the "Black Lives Matter" movement, adding a new section on the "Me Too" movement.

    • Updated sections on African Americans in Congress, with a new mention of the Squad.

    • Updated voting behavior through the 2020 elections, connecting the Obama years with the new administration.

    • A comparison of the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

    • A discussion of the way in which race contributes to the polarization of American politics in the 2020 presidential campaign.

    • An analysis of the racial attitudes of President Trump, and the institutionally racist policies of his administrations.

    • Updated chapter on state and local politics, including a new section on state executive offices and Black mayors.

    • Updated sections on material well-being indicators, adding a new section on the coronavirus pandemic and the Black community.

    • The first overall assessment of the Obama administration in relation to domestic and foreign policy and racial politics.

    Part 1: Foundations

    1. Universal Freedom Declared, Universal Freedom Denied: Racism, Slavery, and the Ideology of White Supremacy in the Founding of the Republic

    2. Federalism and the Limits of Universal Freedom

    Part 2: Political Behaviorism

    3. Political Culture and Socialization

    4. Public Opinion

    5. African Americans and the Media

    Part 3: Coalitions, Movements, Interest Groups, Parties, and Elections

    6. Social Movements and a Theory of African American Coalition Politics

    7. Interest Groups

    8. Political Parties

    9. Voting Behavior and Elections

    Part 4: Institutions

    10. The Congress and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom

    11. The Presidency, Bureaucracy, and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom

    12. The Supreme Court and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom

    13. State and Local Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom

    Part 5: Public Policy

    14. Domestic Policy and the African American Quest for Social and Economic Justice

    15. The African American Quest for Universal Freedom and U.S. Foreign Policy


    Hanes Walton, Jr. (1941–2013), Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan, was an architect of the modern study of African American politics. Over four decades of prodigious research (including 25 books) and conceptual refinement he helped to make the subfield of Black politics an important area of study in political science. His last book was The African American Electorate: A Statistical Portrait.

    Robert C. Smith, Professor of Political Science Emeritus, San Francisco State University, is the author of multiple books and articles and of the Encyclopedia of African American Politics. His most recent books are Conservatism and Racism, and Why in America They Are the Same and John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and the Politics of Ethnic Incorporation and Avoidance, as well as the forthcoming From the Bayou to the Bay: The Autobiography of a Black Liberation Scholar and Power, Philosophy and Egalitarianism: Women, the Family and African Americans.

    Sherri L. Wallace, Professor of Political Science, University of Louisville, has received awards for excellence in teaching and instructional design and has published articles on college textbook diversity, women of color in academe, race and politics, and community economic development.

    "In the ninth edition of American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom, Professors Robert C. Smith and Sherri L. Wallace have updated the best African American politics book in the nation. This volume contains a wealth of information about the continuing quest of African American candidates and voters for economic and political power. By writing such a fine book, the authors have continued to further the legacy of the 'Dean of Black Politics'—the late Professor Hanes Walton, Jr."

    Sharon D. Wright Austin, Professor of Political Science, The University of Florida

    "Characterizing it as an undergraduate textbook undersells what American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom truly is. The authors demonstrate in painstaking detail that U.S. politics doesn’t make sense without explicitly considering race. Appreciating freedom means coming to grips with the reality that so many were initially denied it and died fighting for it. The nation progresses—often begrudgingly—towards its ideal of Democracy because of these Freedom Struggles. Such efforts, while central to Black politics, have improved the conditions of every American."

    Ray Block, Jr., Associate Professor, Department of African American Studies, The Pennsylvania State University

    "The ninth edition of American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom provides timely updates to this seminal introductory Black Politics textbook. The authors expand on their critical assessments of social movements and presidential politics to explore the recent expansion of the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement, as well as policies of the Trump administration leading up to the 2020 presidential election."

    Diarra O. Robertson, Associate Professor of Government, Bowie State University

    "American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom is the most comprehensive book on African American politics in the political science discipline. It situates White supremacy and institutional racism as central to American exceptionalism and illustrates how African Americans have contested the boundaries of the U.S. constitutional process and political institutions. The book further provides a layered portrait—from the perspective of African American lawmakers, leaders, activists, policymakers, and opinion leaders—of the U.S. political culture, federalism, media and politics, and foreign policy."

    Sekou Franklin, Associate Professor, Middle Tennessee State University

    "Without question, American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom is the premier textbook in the field of Black Politics. The ninth edition shines in multiple ways. It provides readers with a firm grounding in how today’s struggles against racial inequality—from socioeconomic exclusion, health disparities, police- and state-sanctioned antiblack violence, limited political empowerment, and inequities in wealth accumulation—are rooted squarely in America’s failure to reconcile its exclusionary practices with its inclusionary ideals. The updated chapters on black representation in Congress, on the nationwide protests denouncing police brutality, and on the post-Obama electoral landscape are invaluable in that regard. Although the chapters showcase the continuity of black agitation for equality, the chapters also highlight the ways in which multiracial coalitions can achieve long-lasting equality through structural reforms and attitudinal changes."

    Tyson King-Meadows, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Maryland Baltimore County

    "The ninth edition of American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom is the most definitive account of African American Politics that exists in the field. It should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding the gap between the promise and the practice of American democracy. The authors provide an indictment of the tenuous path toward freedom, while asserting the agency and commitment of those challenging exclusion. The treatment of longstanding patterns with more contemporary developments—such as the coronavirus pandemic—is rich, nuanced, instructive, and powerful. Smith and Wallace help provide a greater understanding of American Politics by centering the importance of African American Politics."

    Khalilah L. Brown-Dean, Associate Professor of Political Science, Quinnipiac University

    "In a strikingly straight-forward fashion, this timely and updated ninth edition of American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom provides cutting-edge and comprehensive coverage along with detailed analysis of the institutions and processes of government and politics in the United States from the vantage point of America’s Black citizens. The focus and nature of African American political participation is a centerpiece of this textbook, which is now the gold standard for the study of African American politics. It boldly delves into the unvarnished reality of the African American political experience thus yielding an essential work for serious students, policymakers, and practitioners. In today’s climate of protest and participation this now classic work rises to the occasion with the provision of historical precision, clarity, and consequential guidance in regard to the American polity and the global context within which African American politics operates."

    Michael Clemons, Professor, Political Science and African American Studies, Old Dominion University

    "As the Black political experience in the United States continues to expand and evolve, this new ninth edition has powerfully embraced the expansive diversity of Black Americans. With new content on the political influence of Black music, intersectional and intergenerational protests, the politics of Black hair, and COVID-19, the newest edition shines as a contemporary and lively engagement on the continued quest for Black liberation. The 9th edition highlights how the presidency of Donald Trump, the misinformation cyber targeting of Black voters by foreign actors, the racialized rhetoric and racist attitudes of the Trump administration has protracted Black progress all while Black Americans and allies worldwide coalesced around police brutality. This edition features new tools to assist instructors and engage with the text online. Walton, Smith, and Wallace have one again delivered a juggernaut in the teaching and learning scholarship of Black politics."

    Ravi K. Perry, Howard University