African American Legislators in the American States

African American Legislators in the American States

Kerry L. Haynie
Copyright Date: 2001
DOI: 10.7312/hayn10644
Pages: 176
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/hayn10644
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    African American Legislators in the American States
    Book Description:

    Has black inclusion in the political process changed political institutions and led to more black influence in the governmental process? How do African American legislators balance racial interests with broader issues of government? And how is their effectiveness subjectively perceived and objectively evaluated?

    In one of the first book-length studies to analyze the behavior of African American state legislators in multiple legislative sessions across five states, Kerry Haynie has compiled a wealth of valuable data that reveals the dynamics and effectiveness of black participation in the legislative process. Owing to the increasing role of state government in administering what he defines as key "black issues" -- education, healthcare, poverty/social welfare, civil rights, and children's issues -- Haynie focuses on bills introduced in these categories in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and North Carolina.

    The book reveals how responsive political institutions have been to the nation's largest minority group. It explores the question of how legislators deal with the "duality dilemma" -- which requires them to be both responsible legislators and race representatives -- and whether agendas should be "deracialized" in order to appeal to a broader constituency. Along with numerous statistical charts illustrating everything from representation on house standing committees to a ranking of the fifteen legislative sessions by quartiles of African American political incorporation, a useful and revealing portrait emerges -- one that will fuel debate and inform future discussions of the role of African Americans in the political process.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50514-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: RACE REPRESENTATIVES OR “RESPONSIBLE LEGISLATORS”?
    (pp. 1-14)

    Has the growing presence of African American representatives in state legislatures resulted in greater African American influence in state policy-making? That is, do African American representatives have a noticeable and distinctive effect on legislative institutions and the policies they produce? Do they articulate and advocate a race-based legislative agenda? Have African American legislators become more integrated or incorporated into the legislative process over time? How are black legislators viewed or perceived by their peers?

    These are the primary questions addressed in this book. The answers to them are relevant and of some importance to both African American and American politics...

  5. CHAPTER 2 AGENDA-SETTING AND THE REPRESENTATION OF BLACK INTERESTS
    (pp. 15-38)

    One of the most important consequences of the 1960s civil rights movement has been the increased presence of African Americans in elected positions at all levels of government. Many of those involved or associated with the civil rights movement recognized that in order to secure meaningful political rights, equal treatment before the law, and economic opportunity, and in order to maximize African Americans’ potential to affect public policy, it was necessary for African Americans to compete for and win public office. As political scientists James Button and Richard Scher put it, “If they [African Americans] were to achieve true political...

  6. CHAPTER 3 RACE, REPRESENTATION, AND COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS
    (pp. 39-62)

    Legislative scholars have long recognized that standing committees are central to the legislative process.¹ Standing committees are significant for both the policy-making process and the career paths of legislators. There are two important policy-making functions that committees perform. One is the division of labor. Given the large volume and often technical complexity of legislation, committees provide a system of specialization that allows legislatures to make educated and informed choices (Shepsle 1975, 1988; Stewart 1992). Second, standing committees play an agenda-setting and gatekeeping role for legislatures. Committees not only control the substantive content of bills, they also determine if and when...

  7. CHAPTER 4 AFRICAN AMERICAN POLITICAL INCORPORATION: A VIEW FROM THE STATES
    (pp. 63-92)

    After the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, black politics was transformed from pressure or protest politics to the politics of electoral participation. This new politics served as an impetus for African Americans to compete for public office and led to significant gains in African American representation in government. A black presence in governmental institutions has important symbolic and psychological consequences for African Americans in particular, and all of American society in general. For example, Lani Guinier (1994) reports that an African American member of the 1989 Arkansas House of Representatives indicated that one reason that he worked to...

  8. CHAPTER 5 RACE AND PEER EVALUATIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN LEGISLATORS: A CASE STUDY
    (pp. 93-104)

    How open, receptive, and responsive state legislatures are to African American representation is one of the primary questions considered in this book. African American political incorporation, the subject of chapter 4, is one measure of institutional openness or responsiveness. Another equally important, albeit less tangible, measure of openness is how African American legislators are viewed by their colleagues. Previous studies have demonstrated that, because of their race, African American candidates for public office are often perceived and evaluated less favorably by voters (Baker and Kleppner 1986; Carsey 1995; Citrin, Green, and Sears 1990; Giles and Buckner 1993; Glaser 1994; Kinder...

  9. CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 105-114)

    This book has analytically examined several issues related to the nature and consequences of an African American presence in state legislatures. The preceding chapters have provided several empirical findings that should prove useful in future attempts to develop theories of African American elite behavior in general, and African American legislative behavior in particular. The overarching question guiding this study has been, what does it matter whether or not there are African Americans serving in state legislatures? In an effort to provide some initial answers to this question, this study has examined such issues as whether African American representatives have a...

  10. APPENDIX: APPENDIX TO CHAPTER 3
    (pp. 115-120)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 121-130)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 131-142)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 143-150)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 151-152)