Between 1865 and 1876, about 2,000 blacks held elective and appointive offices in the South, but these men faced astounding odds. They were belittled as corrupt and inadequate by their white political opponents, who used legislative trickery, libel, bribery, and brutal intimidation of their constituents to rob these black lawmakers of their base of support.
Before Obama: A Reappraisal of Black Reconstruction-Era Politicians comprises two volumes that examine the leadership and contributions of black politicians during the Reconstruction era—diverse men whose efforts during Reconstruction should not be overlooked. Each biographical essay examines how each individual contributed to the Reconstruction Era and fostered the development of a parallel civil society within black communities, what influence his actions had on the future of blacks in politics, and why he has been ignored. This work also serves to set the record straight about these black politicians who are often scapegoated for the overall failure of the Reconstruction.