Race Over Party

Black Politics and Partisanship in Late Nineteenth-Century Boston

By Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood

262 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 9 halftones

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4041-9
    Published: May 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4040-2
    Published: May 2018
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4042-6
    Published: April 2018

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In late nineteenth-century Boston, battles over black party loyalty were fights over the place of African Americans in the post–Civil War nation. In his fresh in-depth study of black partisanship and politics, Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood demonstrates that party politics became the terrain upon which black Bostonians tested the promise of equality in America’s democracy. Most African Americans remained loyal Republicans, but Race Over Party highlights the actions and aspirations of a cadre of those who argued that the GOP took black votes for granted and offered little meaningful reward for black support. These activists branded themselves “independents,” forging new alliances and advocating support of whichever candidate would support black freedom regardless of party.

By the end of the century, however, it became clear that partisan politics offered little hope for the protection of black rights and lives in the face of white supremacy and racial violence. Even so, Bergeson-Lockwood shows how black Bostonians’ faith in self-reliance, political autonomy, and dedicated organizing inspired future generations of activists who would carry these legacies into the foundation of the twentieth-century civil rights movement.

About the Author

Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood is a historian of race, law, and politics in the nineteenth century.
For more information about Millington W. Bergeson-Lockwood, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"This is a much-needed book. It adds to our understanding of African American politics in the age of Emancipation, but more important, it shifts the focus from the South to the North in the post-Emancipation period, exposing how African Americans in the North used their particular politics to respond to rapidly changing social and political conditions."--Shawn Alexander, University of Kansas

"This book forces us to rethink postbellum African American urban politics as a 'tragedy with a silver lining.' In the face of repeated failures to achieve full citizenship and equal rights through electoral politics (as either independents or loyal partisans), Race Over Party convincingly argues that late nineteenth century black Bostonians turned to grassroots community organizing as an alternative as well as complement to electoral strategies for social change. As such, they also helped to prepare the groundwork for the twentieth century Black Freedom Movement."--Joe William Trotter, Jr., author of Black Milwaukee: The Making of an Industrial Proletariat, 1915-45