American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom  book cover
8th Edition

American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom

ISBN 9781138658141
Published March 27, 2017 by Routledge
434 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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. Through the use of 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 Eighth Edition

  • A new co-author, Sherri L. Wallace, is renowned for her teaching, scholarship, and participation in APSA’s American government textbook assessment for coverage of race, ethnicity, and gender. She is the perfect addition following an election year that included female presidential candidates as well as candidates of color and issues focusing on racial tension and inequality.
  • Offers a new Media Integration Guide for the first time.
  • Provides the first overall assessment of the Obama administration in relation to domestic and foreign policy and racial politics in particular.
  • Updated through the 2016 elections, connecting the Obama years with the new administration. Looks at candidates Hillary Clinton and Ben Carson in particular in relation to the themes of the book.
  • Adds a new section on State Politics and Elections.
  • Includes new sections on intersectionality dealing with issues of race, gender and sexuality; LGBT issues as another manifestation of the struggle for universal freedom; a discussion of the "Black Lives Matter" movement; and a new section focusing on the changing character of black ethnicity as result of increased immigration from Africa and the Caribbean.
  • Discusses the way in which race contributed to the polarization of American politics; the connections to the Tea Party; and the Obama Presidency and the 2016 presidential campaign as the most polarized since the advent of polling.
  • Previews the impact of the Trump Administration on matters of race and ethnicity.

Table of Contents


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


3 Political Culture and Socialization

4 Public Opinion

5 African Americans and the Media


6 Social Movements and a Theory of African American Coalition Politics

7 Interest Groups

8 Political Parties

9 Voting Behavior and Elections


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

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

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

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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.

Sherri L. Wallace, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Louisville, has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching and instructional design and serves in a variety of teaching and learning capacities with APSA task forces, curriculum assessments, and textbook evaluations.

Featured Author Profiles

Author - Robert C. Smith

Robert C. Smith

Professor Political Science, San Francisco State University
San Francisco, California, US

Learn more about Robert C. Smith »

Author - Sherri L Wallace

Sherri L Wallace

Professor, University of Louisville
Louisville, KY, USA

Learn more about Sherri L Wallace »



The eighth edition of Walton, Smith, and Wallace's landmark text is better than ever. Cemented as the introductory leading text in Black Politics since its inception, this text explores the vast landscape of African Americans' experiences as part of the American political fabric. Brilliantly, the revised edition continues its tradition of excellence by providing readers with historical details for in depth exploration of the Black American political community. As African Americans grow increasingly diverse, the book aptly expands the text's inclusive framework that engages many intersectionalities of Black political activity, and includes a cogent and powerful analysis of the presidency of Barack Obama and its significance. This book is required reading for anyone interested in Black politics, Black American life, and the role of America's institutions in the journey toward freedom in the Black experience.

Ravi K. Perry, Virginia Commonwealth University

American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom is the preeminent text from noted scholars in the field of Black politics. The authors provide an alternative understanding to the foundation of American politics, which is certain to broaden students' perspective about the true meaning of freedom in America. The new edition provides up-to-date, detailed information about the Obama presidency and the future of Black politics in America. This text essential to any course in American politics.

Angela K. Lewis, University of Alabama at Birmingham

American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom is the definitive textbook in the field of Black Politics. In this most recent edition, the authors offer an in-depth analysis of the presidency of Barack Obama, examine the influence of African Americans at the state and local levels, and provide a timely assessment of the 2016 congressional and presidential elections.

Diarra Osei Robertson, Bowie State University

American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom is a very comprehensive, informative book that details the major actors, events, and issues in African American Politics. It is a must-read for students, scholars, and laymen alike.

Sharon D. Wright Austin, University of Florida

I began using American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom as the textbook for my African American Studies courses with the 6th edition, and I enthusiastically anticipate the release of this 8th edition. This text documents the significance of the Barack Obama presidency while continuing to define the historic importance of terms such as freedom, racism, inherently inferior, and the three-fifths clause, as it relates to African Americans in these United States.

Samuel Craig, Wayne County Community College District

American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom offers the most thorough assessment of African American politics in the discipline of racial politics. It provides both historical and theoretical insight into African Americans’ relationship to foreign policy, the federal courts, Congress, the U.S. Presidency, federalism, elections, social movements, public opinion, and the Constitution. The book shows that African American political agency is constitutive of the American political tradition, and is a must-read for all political observers interested in understanding African American politics and American politics in general, including scholars, students, elected officials, and policy advocates.

Sekou Franklin, Middle Tennessee State University

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