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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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“All He Gave Me Was a Foot”

“All He Gave Me Was a Foot”

Black Technocrats, Richmond’s Urban Woes, and the Crisis of the Crusade for Voters

Chapter:
(p.195) 5 “All He Gave Me Was a Foot”
Source:
The Dream Is Lost
Author(s):

Julian Maxwell Hayter

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813169484.003.0006

Chapter 5 describes how structural forces beyond the realm of politics led to fissures in black leadership. Urban retrenchment, rising poverty and crime, and the persistence of residential segregation had taken their toll on Richmond, the black-majority council, and the Crusade by the 1980s. As the Reagan administration put New Federalism into action, cities struggled to pay the bills. Black leaders struggled to meet these challenges; they also no longer agreed on how to solve their communities’ mounting problems. Women such as Alma Barlow led the charge against the black establishment. Yet Roy West defeated Willie Dell more soundly in 1984, and his victory symbolized the arrival of technocratic, middle-class black politicians. Technocrats such as West supplanted the first wave of civil rights–era black politicians—a phenomenon that was not specific to Richmond. West, who was Richmond’s second black mayor, became the cause célèbre when he secured 30 percent set-asides for minority business contracts. These contracts did little, however, to address the poverty that enveloped Richmond. By 1986, the Crusade failed to challenge West’s approach to black governance. After allegations of discrimination in municipal employment rocked city hall, African Americans realized that the Crusade’s strictly political approach to the freedom struggle had fallen short.

Keywords:   urban retrenchment, crime, New Federalism, black leadership, Alma Barlow, technocrats, municipal employment scandal

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