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The Dream Is LostVoting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond, Virginia$
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Julian Maxwell Hayter

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813169484

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813169484.001.0001

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“The Dream Is Lost”

“The Dream Is Lost”

Henry Marsh and Black Governance in an Era of White Political Resistance

Chapter:
(p.151) 4 “The Dream Is Lost”
Source:
The Dream Is Lost
Author(s):

Julian Maxwell Hayter

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813169484.003.0005

The realization of black governance proved to be one of the freedom struggle’s most enduring legacies. So too was the continuation of white resistance. Chapter 4 describes the unintended consequences of majority–minority districts and black governance. African Americans may have taken control of city hall, but they lacked the types of private relationships needed to govern. The black-majority council and black regimes had inherited a “hollow prize”—the legacy of segregationist policies and demographic forces (e.g., the suburbanization of jobs and people) had taken their toll on predominantly African American cities. As Richmond’s black regime opposed their position as cue takers and tried to redirect resources to impoverished communities, whites embarked on another crusade of obstructionism. This obstructionism was made worse by the black-majority council’s firing of city manager Bill Leidinger and push for the need to redistrict. Between 1978 and 1982, racial factionalism impeded downtown revitalization, undermined the black-majority council in the court of public opinion, and gave rise to anti-VRA sentiment. By 1982, an African American named Roy West not only promised to restore racial harmony to city hall but also beat incumbent Willie Dell. Dell may have emerged as a champion for vulnerable communities, but she was a victim of gendered and racial assumptions about black female leadership and redistricting.

Keywords:   black governance, obstructionism, black regimes, suburbanization, poverty, Bill Leidinger, redistricting, factionalism, Willie Dell, Roy West

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