Dr. Frederick Harris: The Price of the Ticket

Published: February 18th, 2016

Category: Uncategorized

UF Bob Graham Center for Public Policy

Thursday, February 18, 2016 – 06:00 pm

Dr. Fredrick Harris, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center on African American Politics and Society at Columbia University, will speak about his latest book, The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Fall of Black Politics. In the book, Harris puts Obama’s career in the context of decades of black activism, showing how his election undermined the very movement that made it possible. The path to his presidency began just before passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, when black leaders began to discuss strategies to make the most of their new access to the ballot. Some argued that black voters should organize into a cohesive, independent bloc to promote both targeted and universal polices; others urged a more race-neutral approach, working together with other racial minorities as well as like-minded whites. This has been the fundamental divide within black politics ever since. At first, the gap did not seem serious. But the post-civil-rights era has accelerated a shift towards race-neutral politics. Obama made a point of distancing himself from older race-conscious black leaders, such as Jesse Jackson- and leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus-even though, as Harris shows, he owes much to Jackson’s earlier campaigns for the White House.

This discussion is part of a two-day symposium on “An Assessment of the Obama Presidency” hosted by African American Studies. Dr. Harris’ talk will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18 in the Pugh Hall Ocora. The event is free and open to the public.

This event is sponsored by African American Studies, the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service.