Friday, April 3, 2015

HHR Interview with Leah Wright Rigueur, author of The Loneliness of the Black Republican

Charles Badger, a writer for "Hip Hop Republican" interviews the author of a new book that highlights the roles Black Republicans played in the Civil Rights era.
Leah Wright Rigueur is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the author of The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power
(Princeton University Press, 2015)

 Like most Ivy League professors, Leah Wright Rigueur is not a Republican. Yet like most African-Americans, she found it curious that anyone would be. “African-Americans should not be Republicans, nor should they be conservatives Rigueur opens her new book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican. And yet they are.
Rigueur wanted to know why.
Consequently, she gives us a 310-page history which introduces us to figures from the obscure (Arthur Fletcher) to the notorious (Barry Goldwater); and facts unknown about the famous both revered (Jackie Robinson) and reviled (Richard Nixon).
On first blush, Rigueur may not endear herself to her book’s subjects by calling them “lonely.” But the Harvard historian points to Clarence Thomas as having first characterized black Republicans as “lonely”; and the conservative scribe Shelby Steele who did the same.
More importantly, in her new book, Rigueur wants us to know that black Republicans haven’t just been “lonely,” they’ve been integral to the American civil rights struggle. The Kennedy School historian delved through what she estimated, in an interview with HHR, to be some 20,000 documents shedding light on some 44-years of American history. And she tells 44-years of American history through the lens of a group she maintains has had underappreciated influence.
“At times,” Rigueur writes:
…we find not a peculiar group of blacks, desperate for white acceptance or out of touch with American realities but rather a movement of African-Americans working for an alternative economic and civil rights movement.