African Americans and Political Participation

A Reference Handbook

by Minion K. C. Morrison, Editor
Foreward by U.S. Rep. Bennie Gordon Thompson


African American participation in U.S. electoral politics as voters, candidates, and office holders is at an all-time high. However, their political activism has been practiced throughout history, even in the eras of enslavement and disenfranchisement.

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Cover image for African Americans and Political Participation

July 2003


Pages 400
Volumes 1
Size 6x9
Topics Race and Ethnicity/African American Studies
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This handbook provides a thorough treatment of the various mechanisms African Americans have used to participate in U.S. political affairs from the colonial era to the present.

With contributions by several of the field's experts, this concise, provocative volume explores the evolution and current status of African American political action. Focusing on distinct types of activity (protest politics, grassroots movements, electoral politics, political office holding), it charts the unique development of African Americans as they progressed from enslavement by whites to empowerment as citizens to an ever-growing influence on elections.

As the book vividly demonstrates, African Americans' efforts to act on their own political behalf didn't begin in the 1960s. Even while enslaved, black people courageously launched petitions, instigated strikes on plantations, and staged full-blown revolts, creating a legacy of activism that expanded through the abolition movement, Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, the post-World War II civil rights movement, and into the present.


  • 25 A–Z entries on important individuals and events such as the Nat Turner revolt, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the Return to Africa Movement
  • Chronology of political events in African American political history from colonial times to the present


  • The only comprehensive political history of the African American minority
  • Covers the often overlooked informal bases of participation
  • Brings to light the full extent of African American political activity in the colonial period
Author Info

Minion K. C. Morrison is professor of political science at the University of Missouri–Columbia, Columbia, MO.



"Morrison and five contributors offer an important resource, a volume in the Political Participation in America series. Their rich overview presents well-documented discussions of several aspects of African American political participation . . . Recommended. All collections."Choice

"African Americans and Political Participation is highly recommended as a basic introduction to the field, and as a complement to Barker's African Americans and the American Political System."American Reference Books Annual

"[A] solid, evenhanded presentation and a highly recommended addition to any Political Science or African American Studies reference collection."Library Bookwatch

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Native Americans and Political Participation cover imageEast Asian Americans and Political Participation cover imageConservative Christians and Political Participation cover image
Latino Americans and Political Participation cover imageWomen and Political Participation cover imageGay and Lesbian Americans and Political Participation cover image

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