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William L. Clay

Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans In Congress 1870-1991***

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As the senior member of the Missouri Congressional delegation and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, William L. Clay shares thirty-four years of experiences and insight into the political process and the roles that black elected officials have played in the process, from the post-Civil War era up to now. From the election of Senator Hiram R. Revels in 1870 to the election of Congresswoman Maxine Waters in 1991, Congressman Clay dispels the myths and misinformation about black politicians. He recounts their struggles, victories and losses, and sets the record straight about the enormous contributions they have made, which benefit not only other blacks, but Americans of all ethnicities. Congressman Clay shows how "the business of effective government is neither fun nor games for elected officials. It is not easy work, short hours, and unending cocktail parties. It is a rough, tough business" and given pervasive unemployment, excessive numbers of women heading households without support, high rates of crime and teen-age pregnancies, and all the other tragic conditions that are part of the black community, citizens - activists and aspiring politicians alike - need to know how the system really works and can work to empower as well as suppress black people. Just Permanent Interests delivers a wealth of information on and analysis of American politics useful to students, professionals, and voters in general.
Congressman Clay documents black involvement in politics during the Reconstruction era, then brings the reader through the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement. He reveals the racial dynamics of congressional politics and the events that led to the founding of the Congressional Black Caucus. He describes the relationship of the Caucus to Democratic and Republican administrations of the last two decades as well as the relationships between members of the Caucus - "the single most effective political entity we [black Americans] have had." He exposes the beauty marks and warts of the Black Caucus and provides a timely examination of how the current political policies of both the Democratic and Republican parties affect African-Americans.