"Both Parties Hedging": Reassessing Party Loyalty among Black New Yorkers, 1952-1961.
I used to think the Democrats were better for Colored people but I have to change my mind because the desegregation bill was passed under the Republicans, all these years we've been getting promises from the Dems but nothing ever came of it. African American Survey Respondent, Staten Island, NY, 1957 (2)
The common consensus in the twenty-first century is that African Americans always vote for Democrats, with a few exceptions, in presidential elections. In 2016, for example, African Americans supported the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton by 89 percent--the highest percentage of support among any of the major ethnic groups in America. While the number was not as high as the 95 percent of African Americans who cast their ballots for Barack Obama in 2008, such high rates of Democratic support lend themselves to the idea that the black populace casts its ballots compelled by an unbreakable bond with the Democratic Party. (3) An overwhelming majority of African Americans have voted Democratic in presidential elections beginning in 1964 when 94 percent of black voters cast ballots for Lyndon Johnson--a jump from 68 percent in 1960. Since then, African American support for Democratic presidential candidates has never fallen below 84 percent. (4) This resounding support for Democrats obscures the fact that black voters are not a monolith who share near identical concerns and values. Survey data for black New Yorkers from 1952 to 1961--a period when black voters were already commonly portrayed as a mass who, perhaps blindly, cast its ballots without deliberation--reveals that African American voters were more concerned about economic issues, civil rights, and the fitness of particular candidates rather than party affiliation. (5)
African Americans' preference for the Democratic Party is generally dated back to 1936. After four years of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, the majority of African Americans, who had the ability to vote, transitioned from regularly supporting Republican presidential candidates, a practice that dated back to the days of Abraham Lincoln to consistently voting for Democrats who offered economic relief. (6) This switch made African Americans a vital component of the New Deal coalition, which included white southerners, who had traditionally voted Democratic, and communities in the industrial North including union members, recent immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, blue-collar workers, and people who supported more government intervention to manage the economy. Although the majority of African Americans voted for Democratic presidential candidates between 1936 and 1960, there were notable variations. In 1956, for example, when Adlai Stevenson ran for president as the Democratic Party nominee for the second time, his support dropped 14 percent in black districts in Manhattan. (7) That support, for the most part, shifted to Dwight Eisenhower. (8) Henry Lee Moon, a civil rights advocate and author of Balance of Power: The Negro Vote, reported that Democratic support in Harlem had actually declined 16 percent between 1952 and 1956, while support for Stevenson dropped 24.4 percent among African Americans in a variety of southern cities such as Baltimore, Raleigh, Mobile, and New Orleans. (9) While the majority of African Americans nationwide (61 percent) voted for Stevenson in 1956, the decreased support across the nation (76 percent of black voters cast ballots for him in 1952) and New York City suggests that black voters were indeed evaluating presidential candidates every election cycle and a noteworthy minority was willing to vote for a Republican if they thought the candidate would better serve their interests. (10) While the 1952 election is illustrative, this article looks beyond voting returns to identify and assess the varied opinions expressed by African Americans in and around New York City. (11)
The purpose of this article is twofold: First, it uses survey data collected by a prominent political analyst to highlight a period mainly in the 1950s when African American voters were often described as a loyal Democratic bloc to foreground the diversity of political thought among African Americans that was obscured by such descriptions. (12) Second, it explores some of the reasons why black voters were portrayed in this way by examining the conclusions drawn by the political analyst who collected the data. The rich, although small, source base for this article is a collection of interviews and survey data amassed by prominent political analyst Samuel Lubell. Lubell, who was born in Poland but grew up in New York City, worked primarily as a journalist in the 1930s before rising to prominence as a political analyst the following decade. The survey data featured in this article was the raw data and interviews that Lubell collected for his nationally syndicated newspaper column, "The People Speak," his best-selling books such as The Future of American Politics (1952), The Revolt of the Moderates (1956), White and Black: Test of a Nation (1964), and privately commissioned surveys. Lubell interviewed black New Yorkers about a range of issues that went beyond upcoming elections and the propaganda and appeals of the two major political parties. (13) The interviews reveal that average black New Yorkers often struggled to determine--based on local and national affairs--how to best use their voting power, particularly because neither Republicans nor Democrats appeared to be committed to the advancement of African American causes. Or, as a Harlem respondent told Lubell, "both parties hedging," which referred to both major parties' unwillingness to fully commit to the protection of African American rights for fear of political fallout from whites who opposed desegregation and civil rights activism. (14) While Lubell's data contradicts the idea that black voters cast ballots based on the direction of black leaders, political machines, or a quid pro quo approach to politics, he often described black voters in these very terms thus promoting the idea that black voters were separate from the body politic and more easily influenced by outside forces. By comparing the opinions expressed by black respondents with the ways Lubell analyzed and portrayed their views, it is possible to see that despite the wide range of opinions held by black voters, Lubell, in the process of explaining black voters and their motivations to predominately white audiences, particularly in his newspaper column, largely erased the nuanced views blacks expressed on a variety of issues. As a result, Lubell deemphasized black political autonomy in the mid-twentieth century and, subsequently, increased partisanship and decreased the likelihood that both major political parties would consider the black vote to be "up for grabs."
"Which Party is Better for Negroes?" (15)
In the fall of 1957, Lubell posed a deceptively straightforward question to one hundred black residents of New York City: Which political party is better for African Americans? (16) In matters related to civil rights, 56 of the one hundred respondents said Republicans, while the remainder were evenly split between those who said the Democrats and those who said "neither." When it came to economic matters, however, the numbers were essentially flipped with 49 percent answering Democrats, 30 percent Republicans, and 21 percent who said neither party was remarkable. Lubell, who conducted this survey for a private client, surmised two takeaways from the responses. First, the Republican Party had made "considerable headway in convincing Negroes that the GOP is the better party on civil rights." Second, the main barrier to further gains made by the Republican Party amongst African Americans was "the economic attachment Negroes feel to the Democratic Party." African Americans were not alone, many Americans still associated the severe deprivation of the Great Depression to the stewardship of Republicans, but Lubell found that African Americans' preference for the Democratic Party based on economic issues was weakening. "The almost unchallenged attachment to the Democratic Party that prevailed through the Truman Administration has been cracked," explained Lubell, "A deep division of opinion among Negroes has appeared and their vote can no longer be taken for granted." The survey revealed that the respondents in higher income neighborhoods were more likely to have voted for Dwight Eisenhower than their counterparts in lower income neighborhoods. Meanwhile, some African Americans explained that they had begun to base their party allegiance not on local matters, but the "struggle to control Congress" and the possibility of weakening the influence of southern Democrats. (17) The private survey findings were in line with observations Lubell published in The Journal of Negro Education a few months before. After examining nearly one million black voting returns in predominantly black wards and precincts in 86 cities--including a wide range of communities from New York City and Chicago to Toledo, OH and Columbia, SC--Lubell found that 36 percent of black voters, in comparison to 25 percent four years before, cast ballots for Eisenhower in 1956. While Lubell observed that the shift to the Republican Party was smaller in cities such as Philadelphia, Portland, OR, and Minneapolis, MN, where Democratic machines had more closely aligned themselves with the interests of the black community, he also noticed that black support for Eisenhower nationwide was more prevalent among higher income African Americans. For example, "Harlem's famed Sugar Hill," observed Lubell, "gave Eisenhower 38 per cent of its vote in 1956 compared to the 31 per cent that he drew among New York Negroes generally." (18)
African Americans' opinions on which party offered more effective support of the civil rights movement and the fight for access and equality in America was in part complicated by recent events. At the time of the survey, President Eisenhower had recently ordered 1,000 U.S. Army paratroopers and federalized Arkansas National Guard troops--the first time a president had sent the military to the South to enforce federal law since Reconstruction--to protect students integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. (19) While most of the respondents reacted positively to Eisenhower's decision, there was some disagreement on whether he waited too long to intervene or had waited an appropriate amount of time to convince people that intervention was necessary. Eisenhower's decision was one more factor that black voters could use to decide who to support in the upcoming presidential election. Despite recent events, however, a fifty-one-year-old building foreman who worked at New York University observed, "you won't find many Negroes who fought in World War II who like Eisenhower. As a general, his policies were never favorable to our race." It is unclear why the respondent emphatically criticized Eisenhower, but the then president's support of segregation while he was a general had become a major political issue during his first presidential campaign. (20) In New York, Lubell found a community of voters who were increasingly more open to the Republican Party, which provides a different perspective on African American voters in the urban North who are commonly known as the most loyal members of the New Deal consensus. Lubell also reported a significant receptiveness to Vice President Richard Nixon succeeding Eisenhower, as well. To analyze die responses, Lubell separated the respondents into three groups: Republicans, Democrats, and Shifters. For the sake of this survey, Republicans were blacks who had voted for Republican presidential candidates since 1948; Democrats were those who had voted for Democrats since the first election of Roosevelt; and Shifters were those who voted for Roosevelt and Truman but had voted for Eisenhower in either 1952 or 1956. These categorizations emphasized that black voters were open to cast ballots based on the candidate--and issues--rather than political party to the point that Lubell tried to assess respondents' receptiveness to Nixon based on their previous voting record rather than their registered or stated political affiliation. The group referred to as "Republicans" expressed a 12 to 1 receptivity to the election of Nixon as the next president, meanwhile Democrats supported him 5 to 3, while "Shifters" supported him 7 to 4. Of all 100-people interviewed, 64 expressed a "definite preference for 1960," and within that group Nixon received twice as much support in comparison to any potential Democratic candidate. While these responses could be due to the positive feeling evoked by Little Rock, a sense of familiarity with the Vice President over potential Democratic candidates, or a number of other reasons, these responses reveal that the African American respondents were not overwhelmingly supportive or immediately swayed by their previous support for the Democratic Party. The black voters interviewed expressed a desire to select the candidate that might protect or advance the status of African Americans nationwide and an openness to Republican candidates and leadership. (21)
Lubell's decision to label the African Americans he surveyed Democrats, Republicans, and Shifters demonstrates the diversity of opinion and voting among blacks in this era. A closer look at interviews that Lubell collected with a "Shifter" and a "Republican" can provide more insight into factors and life circumstances that led to those choices in the voting booth. One "Shifter" was a 33-year-old auto mechanic and father of one who lived in Staten Island, but had migrated from the South. The registered Democrat had voted for Truman in 1948, Eisenhower in 1952, and Stevenson in 1956. His voting record was even more complicated if you include his votes for Democratic New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. in 1953 and 1956, Republican Gubernatorial candidate Irving Ives in 1954, and his intention to vote for Democratic incumbent W. Averell Harriman in the upcoming 1958 election. His support for Harriman was due in part to his belief that he had helped African Americans in the state, particularly in terms of their job prospects. He explained: "My dad was an auto mechanic like me, but he couldn't find jobs and had [to] take a job as a janitor...this was when Dewey was Governor." In comparison to his "father's day" when he said blacks were denied jobs because of their race, he was able to work in his chosen career, save money, and feel "accepted on the job just like everyone else." While he supported the Democratic governor, he expressed satisfaction with Eisenhower because the civil rights bill passed during his administration. Although he approved of Eisenhower's decision to deploy the National Guard, he expressed concern that Little Rock would engender more hate toward African Americans in the South. In contrast, one respondent--a "Republican" as described by the survey--had voted Democratic in presidential elections until 1952 and 1956 when he cast votes for Eisenhower. He had also cast votes for Wagner twice and Harriman in 1954 with plans to vote for him again in 1958. The fellow Staten Island resident was a 38-year-old machinist, father of two, and Baptist who believed neither party was better than the other. He planned to vote for Harriman because he and other Democrats had been good for New York City and the state, but he was unimpressed with the race records of both parties. He explained:
It doesn't matter much who is in office, the Colored man still gets kicked around...sure now they're de-segregating the schools down south...but the folks still got to live in shanties, you can't force the whites to sell the Colored people better homes...it's the same up north no kidding about that, when a Negro goes looking for a house, the price suddenly shoots way up out of his reach. The only difference up here is they smile when they segregate. (22)
Again, this respondent approved of Eisenhower's actions regarding Little Rock, but he said he voted for Eisenhower initially because he believed he was the only one who could end the Korean War. Although he was an engaged voter, he expressed little faith in politicians from either party to improve the fate of African Americans. "Neither party has done much for our people, politicians can't do anything really...every time I vote I think 'maybe this guy will be able to think of something,' but none of them been smart enough...they think by passing a law they will help us...they pass the law only to appease their own consciences, you can't stop hate and ignorance with laws." In terms of economic matters, he complained about high prices and taxes and expressed the belief that neither party had made any difference in terms of improving his financial standing. While these two men's views are not representative of black New Yorkers in toto, their voting records, assessment of the two major political parties, and concern about the status of African Americans in the North and South meant they would not vote Democratic solely on the record of Franklin Roosevelt or the memory of New Deal policies. (23)
This dissatisfaction expressed by the black New Yorkers was echoed by major African American leaders such as W. E. B. Du Bois and fit within larger national samplings of African American voters interviewed by Lubell and referenced in his column. With the 1956 presidential election a few weeks away, Du Bois, who had moved to New York City in 1944, told the readers of The Nation that he would not vote because he felt there was little to distinguish the two major political parties and little hope for success for a third-party challenger. Du Bois--who had cast ballots for Henry Wallace and Vincent Hallinan, the Progressive Party candidates in 1948 and 1952 respectively--r ejected the notion of choosing between the lesser of two evils at the ballot box because Republicans and Democrats had failed African Americans who remained "the most impoverished group in the nation." Du Bois looked at a nation that he believed was obsessed with armaments and war and the accumulation of private profit to the neglect of education, health, and housing and saw little cause to vote if no party offered a different path. For Du Bois, the only real reform lay in a Communist-style government that would advocate for socialized--or government managed--health care, housing, federal aid to education, limited private profit, and the abolition of racial bias. He pointed out, however, that anyone who advocated for a third-party option in the current political climate could look forward to being accused of being an enemy of state. While Du Bois's politics were well to the left of positions expressed by the black respondents discussed in this article, his frustrations when searching for candidates and political parties who offered tangible benefits for African Americans reflect similar deliberations among northern blacks who had the franchise, but often lacked an obvious choice in terms of political affiliation. (24) In October 1960, Lubell reported in his syndicated column, "The People Speak," that of the African Americans he interviewed nationwide, 55 percent said Democrats had the better civil rights record, while 30 percent said neither. In comparison, when asked which party was better for blacks economically, 80 percent said Democrats. (25)
The 1957 survey of 100 respondents was commissioned by the Republican political newcomer Nelson Rockefeller who was considering running against Harriman. Lubell's task was to identify the issues that animated New York voters and help Rockefeller determine if he could launch a successful campaign. The survey included a study of demographic groups such as farmers and Negroes to determine what were the greatest areas of concern in the state and whether voters were responsive to the would-be candidacy of the grandson of John D. Rockefeller, founder of the nineteenth century's most successful and ultimately unpopular monopoly of the Gilded Age. Lubell concluded that the survey results showed that "a break of Negro voters is possible, although far from certain." Among the 93 complete interviews collected in nine districts identified as "predominantly Negro election districts," 75 percent of the respondents voted for Harriman in 1954 (compared to 15 percent for the Republican candidate and 10 percent who either did not vote or could not recall who they voted for). Almost all of the respondents who voted for Harriman previously planned to do so again, but a fifth of the respondents were undecided. While this did not bode well for Rockefeller's odds, Lubell did believe that his chances could be helped by "a genuine conflict of interest [that had] developed among the Negroes, with many being torn between the parties by conflicting emotions and interest." While respondents offered support for Harriman because of his efforts to improve the status of blacks in the state and his appointments of African Americans to state jobs--the most prominent appointee was Deputy Commissioner of Housing Robert C. Weaver--Lubell found that overall African Americans were "beginning to lose their Democratic attachment and to think more favorably of the Republican Party, particularly where civil rights are concerned." Again, this conflict of opinion suggests that African Americans had specific and tangible reasons for supporting particular Democratic candidates in New York, but the Republican Party's efforts on civil rights could sway some voters to vote Republican. Lubell concluded that an economic downturn could strengthen black people's ties to the Democratic Party, but, conversely, the growing civil rights movement in the South and the concomitant racial animosity it caused could increase African Americans' "restiveness in the Democratic Party." (26)
A year after Lubell conducted the survey commissioned by Rockefeller, the Albany, New York newspaper The Knickerbocker News conducted a small survey of black residents in Harlem a month before the gubernatorial election to gauge their interest in voting for then Republican candidate Rockefeller. Of the 61-people interviewed, 36 planned to vote for Harriman, 14 were undecided, and 11 said they would vote for Rockefeller. Of the last group, all but two had voted for Harriman in 1954. A female respondent interviewed at the post office on 125th ST explained her openness to Rockefeller this way: "Harriman had his chance on civil rights. Now let's see what Rockefeller will do." Meanwhile, a Harlem resident who remained undecided explained his political philosophy with the quip: "I'm for the man who's for me. You understand? If the devil is for me, then I'll be for the devil." The newspaper noted that they found the potential for a large amount of ticket-splitting and vote switching in Harlem because those who said they would vote for Rockefeller planned to vote for Democrats in other races. (27)
Days after Rockefeller won the governorship of New York, Lubell sent out a survey taker to interview African Americans in the Twelfth Precinct of the Sixth Assembly District in Brooklyn, which was described as an "all-Negro residential district of quiet two and four-family apartment houses." The sample size was, again, small--15 men and 6 women for a total of 21 respondents--but the findings were encouraging for Rockefeller because in a precinct that typically voted Democratic by a margin of 2 to 1, Rockefeller won by approximately 57 percent. The majority of the respondents were registered Democrats (16 to 5), but only 8 of the 21 respondents had an unbroken Democratic voting record. Of the 12 respondents who voted for Rockefeller, 7 were Democrats. Regardless of party affiliation, approximately 85 percent of the survey respondents said they believed the Democratic Party was more likely to advocate for full employment and civil rights legislation. When asked which party they would vote for in the 1960 presidential election, 8 said Democratic, 3 Republican, 6 said it depended on the candidates, and 4 refused to answer. (28)
"What Issues Stir Negro Voters Most?" (29)
The African American voters who spoke to Lubell in 1957 demonstrated an interest in national politics and the fate of disfranchised blacks in the South--a concern felt deeply enough that they would put the interest of their southern counterparts before themselves--but they had no shortage of local concerns. Almost half of the respondents volunteered complaints about their neighborhoods and personal circumstances that the survey takers took special note of because they were spontaneous responses rather than hypothetical problems offered as potential areas of concerns for the interviewees to rate. The most often mentioned problem was that of housing discrimination, discussed by 17 New Yorkers, followed by taxes (7), roads (7)--a response isolated to the Borough of Queens--school segregation (6), and rising prices (6). Lubell found this notable because while African Americans' concerns were generally related to discrimination, housing was mentioned most often, while only one respondent mentioned job discrimination. Fifteen to twenty years before, Lubell explained, "Negroes were fighting for a foothold in industry and opportunity for employment," but now, due to economic advancement they are resentful because they are unable to move into better housing because of discrimination, which Lubell called the "point of greatest friction between Negroes and whites." Subsequently, the survey results found that higher income African Americans were more likely to complain about housing segregation than their peers with lower incomes. (30) While African Americans' concerns about access to housing set them apart, their worry over high taxes meant they shared a complaint that was the number one issue for voters across New York state.
The black voters interviewed were no single or double-issue voters. The interview transcripts demonstrate that African Americans in New York were particularly interested in the international implications and repercussions of civil rights within a Cold War context, but also foreign policy more generally among other issues. After conducting a series of interviews in Corona, Queens, in 1960 a survey taker employed by Lubell concluded that when he interviewed African Americans in the future he would need to change the questions. "It seems I'll have to change the questions around," he observed "since the civil [rights] issue is the big one while the "Big Problem" is diminished. Often the Big Problem is civil [rights]." While he did not state explicitly that the "big problem" referred to America's relations with the Soviet Union or foreign affairs that seemed to be his implication, this was the major concern raised by white respondents in this period. In his reply, Lubell disagreed stating "Actually, I don't see that your Negro interviews should be handled so much differently than the whites." Lubell did say, however, that African American interviews were more difficult to tabulate because their top concerns did not align with white respondents. He explained: "There are three things to keep in focus on the Negroes; foreign situation; economic developments and civil rights. This probably makes them a little more difficult than whites to interview." (31) The survey taker found it more difficult to draw conclusions from and incorporate black responses into the general pool of respondents because civil rights was a priority in a way that was not true for white respondents. This reality again alludes to the more complicated choices African Americans had when deciding who to support in presidential elections. A 40-year old freelance photographer explained that he would vote for Kennedy in 1960 despite voting for Eisenhower in 1956 because he blamed the president for the failure of the Paris Summit with Nikita Khruschev. The interviewee explained that he was not particularly impressed with Eisenhower's intervention in Little Rock as well, but civil rights were not uppermost in his mind because he believed Democrats were no better due to their "Southern tradition." Among three respondents who said they planned to switch their support to the Democrats in 1960, two said it was because they were unhappy with Eisenhower's record on civil rights rather than their faith in Kennedy's commitment to the issue. One of these respondents, who the survey taker observed "seemed quite bitter over his 'negro problem,'" was a 50-year-old purchasing agent, who said Eisenhower "tends toward White supremacy" and he agreed with Adam Clayton Powell's assessment that U.S. Senator from Texas Lyndon Johnson was better on civil rights, but he concluded that neither party had a good record. (32) The third respondent who said he would switch his support to Kennedy in 1960 said he was motivated in part because Kennedy was Catholic and he thought he would be less prejudiced. This 52-year-old chef said he believed Republicans were better on civil rights overall, but Eisenhower had done nothing on civil rights. Unlike the other respondents, he identified inflation as the nation's biggest problem. A number of respondents who were interviewed in Harlem two days later also identified issues other than civil rights as the biggest problem facing America. Of the six interviewees in the Riverton Houses, a public housing project in Harlem, who named a "biggest problem," all said some aspect of the Cold War, including the possibility of war, and the spread of Communism. The seven respondents in the Lincoln Houses, also a public housing community in Harlem, had a variety of answers including taxes and inflation, too much US aid to foreign countries, partisan fighting over foreign policy, two who named unemployment, and two who identified the Cold War. (33)
A survey taker for Lubell interviewed 15 African Americans in the Fifth Assembly District in the 35th Election District in the neighborhood of Corona, Queens in June 1960 to find out if they were likely to vote for Nixon or Kennedy. The community was described as "almost entirely low income-Negro...made up of 1 or 2 family houses" and a few apartment complexes. The respondents were almost evenly split with 8 in favor of Nixon and 7 for Kennedy. Those who supported Nixon specifically cited his experience and their concerns over foreign policy as reasons for their choice. While respondents who supported Kennedy, rather than mention his personal attributes, did so because they favored the Democratic Party and were concerned about the economic downturn during Eisenhower's second administration. While more respondents said the Democratic Party was better for the economic standing of blacks, they were split on which party was better for civil rights. Those who supported Nixon were more likely to say he was better on civil rights, but overall, few associated either man with civil rights causes. When supporters of Nixon offered specific reasons to choose the vice president over Kennedy, no one cited his civil rights record, instead they mentioned his experience, particularly in the field of foreign affairs. (34) A sampling of interviews with eight black men in the Riverton Houses revealed that while six of the eight said they preferred Kennedy over Nixon most described him as the lesser of two evils. In general, the respondents were unimpressed with both parties' records on civil rights. While one former southerner said he thought Republicans had a better record on civil rights, of the two people who said the Democrats were better one said they were better "by a hair" because they sometimes provided more jobs and the other said they were hampered by the southern wing of the party. Three respondents credited recent advancements related to civil rights to the tenor of the times putting pressure on politicians. A 40-year-old mechanical engineer credited foreign affairs for both parties' renewed attention to civil rights. He said the U.S. couldn't sell democracy to the world if there was no Democracy at home. A set of eight interviews conducted in the Lincoln Houses, also a public housing project in Harlem, revealed more partisan support for Kennedy based on a general tendency to vote Democratic. Again, there was little resounding approval of the two major parties' civil rights records, while a 65-year old retired seaman said the Democrats were better because nothing was done regarding civil rights until Roosevelt was elected a 34-year old hospital aide--all sixteen interviewees were male--said the parties were about equal in their lack of effort. (35)
While black survey respondents were largely unimpressed with the potential 1960 presidential candidates, Lubell referred to a "surprisingly strong Negro following" for Nixon in a 1958 newspaper column. Lubell observed that while Nixon was almost certain to be the Republican Party's presidential nominee his chance of being elected had diminished because he had become a polarizing figure on race because his reputation as being an ally to African Americans had grown. White southerners who were angry about Eisenhower ordering troops to Little Rock told the analyst that Nixon would be even worse than Eisenhower. The negative responses were significant enough for Lubell to conclude that nominating Nixon "would amount to writing off the South and its sympathizers in an open bid for the Northern Negro vote." Lubell noted that most of the African Americans he talked to across the country who had voted for Eisenhower in 1956 said they planned to vote for Democrats in 1958 due to the recession, but he predicted, although incorrectly, that Nixon's draw would still be great enough that he could win a "majority of the Negro voters in both the North and South." Despite somewhat lukewarm support for Nixon expressed by African Americans, Lubell predicted that Nixon seemed to be losing his ability to attract any voters who tended to vote Democratic except African Americans. The problem for Nixon was that when he was first elected vice president he was most often associated with his anti-Communism, but as time passed the few positions he took in support of civil rights alienated him from racially conservative whites. Lubell reported: "A machinist in Los Angeles, an electronics engineer in St. Louis and a stonecutter in Detroit, all Eisenhower voters, opposed Nixon because, 'he's gone overboard for the niggers.'" Although the African Americans surveyed did not express much enthusiasm for Nixon, his positions within the Eisenhower administration led white supremacists and those who opposed desegregation to single him out as an advocate for blacks. Historian Timothy Thurber notes that Nixon's public advocacy for civil rights legislation, numerous speeches calling for racial equality, trip to Africa, and willingness to socialize with African Americans in Washington, D.C. gained him favorable treatment from Jackie Robinson in the New York Post and some black outlets such as the New York Amsterdam News and Jet magazine in 1960. Nixon's campaign, however, did not invest as many resources in courting black voters as the Kennedy campaign, which, for example, spent a substantial amount of money on advertising in the black media. (36) While Nixon did get some support from black survey respondents, their endorsements were not as enthusiastic as the passionate rejections and rebukes expressed by the white southerners interviewed by Lubell. A respondent from Harlem commented: "Some of my friends say Nixon is just an opportunist and is after our votes. What do I care how sincere he is as long as he is fighting for me?" (37)
The View from a Political Analyst
In October 1960, Lubell told the readers of "The People Speak" that interviews with African Americans in five northern industrial states revealed that the black electorate remained split on Nixon and Kennedy. Despite Jackie Robinson endorsing Nixon and U.S. Congressman from Harlem, Adam Clayton Powell, publicly backing Kennedy, black voters had not been swayed by the leaders' endorsements. (38) While Lubell credited the divided opinions on Kennedy and Nixon in the North, particularly in regards to civil rights, to the parties' failure to differentiate themselves, he did not consider black southerners to be equally independent. Without mentioning any evidence to support the statement, Lubell remarked: "In much of the South the Negro vote swings at the suggestion of its leaders; in other areas it is influenced by how much money is spent." (39) Soon, however, Lubell would portray the black voters of New York City, like their southern counterparts, as a single bloc that were influenced by individual leaders and political favors.
On November 14, 1961, Lubell's syndicated column announced that "Most of Negro Vote Going to Democrats." The analyst's conclusion was said to be based on "astonishing Democratic solidarity shown by Negro voters" in the nation's largest cities. Numerous black respondents expressed approval for the Democratic Party because of the oft-mentioned opinion that the Republican Party benefited the rich, in addition to Kennedy appointing blacks to prominent jobs and supporting the Freedom Riders. The arguments in favor of Kennedy highlight that small and even begrudging gestures--in the case of Kennedy's slow and piecemeal support for the Freedom Riders--could sway black voters when neither major party offered much by way of tangible benefits in the field of civil rights. (40) Lubell noted, however, that African American leaders' increased calls to use their vote to "topple the barriers of discrimination in the country," which he said translated into "new Negro political militancy" in cities, were major factors behind black support for the Democratic Party. This commentary regarding the North, in particular, differed from his earlier public analysis and the private survey data collected that did not find black New Yorkers to be especially swayed by prominent black political figures such as Powell. Furthermore, Lubell interpreted black support for the Democratic Party to be the resurgence of old--and often known for corruption--machine politics in cities New York City, which had been criticized by reform-minded Democrats such as Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1950s. Rather than focus on the difficult or imperfect choices before black voters, Lubell presents their choice in oversimplified terms. He wrote that the African Americans left behind in central cities as "better-income families" fled to the suburbs found themselves to be a higher percentage of the population. Rather than wielding the political power afforded by their newly-concentrated presence, Lubell observed that the "Negroes live in slum conditions where political pull can make the difference whether one has a job or not or is the recipient of other political favors." The implication here is that black voters were now less autonomous as "the spread of welfare state benefits, such as relief payments and low-cost public housing, has made these voters more dependent on favors dispensed by city hall." (41) In his 1964 book, White and Black, Lubell offered a slightly more nuanced argument. He asserted that African Americans were more likely to rely on machine politics for patronage than their white peers because there was still a large number of new migrants in northern cities from the South, while the influx of migrants from Europe had declined. In regard to new black residents of northern cities, Lubell explained: "Many Negroes lie in ceaseless entanglement with the law. In addition to their old line of political favors, the political machines now have the modernized wares of welfare state benefits to distribute." (42) Such descriptions further differentiated black voters from their peers. It is also noteworthy that he assigns unique views to African Americans who lived in "slum conditions," but similar distinctions were not apparent in the interviews he collected black respondents with varying educations and backgrounds.
While the November 14 article referred to trends observed in northern cities and southern cities such as Memphis and Atlanta, it highlighted the 1961 reelection of New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. to demonstrate the point. (43) Lubell observed that Wagner's support among blacks remained at 1957 levels, while his support from the rest of the electorate declined by a quarter, purportedly due to "scandals and other discontents." Lubell observed that while Wagner campaigned as an anti-Tammany Hall candidate he had more consistent precinct-by-precinct support than so-called political bosses. While the bosses delivered three-to-one majorities, Wagner won by five-to-one and even 10-to-one in at least 33 districts. Meanwhile, seventy percent of residents in the city's public housing projects, reported Lubell, voted for Wagner in comparison to 51 percent of the city as a whole. He then noted that 82 percent of the "Negro projects" voted for Wagner, while the predominately white housing projects voted for the mayor by 63 percent. (44) By providing his top-down summary of city-wide returns, Lubell collapsed the decision-making of black voters, which he previously described as being particularly swayed by economic hardship, due, in part, to the recession of the Eisenhower administration, to being beholden to the "big city political machine modernized to fit welfare-state times." His portrayal of black voters may have been objective, but his association between welfare and blacks would bring with it significant cultural baggage in a nation where welfare was increasingly maligned as it was associated with urban black communities, the supposed immorality of single mothers, and sensational press coverage about recipients unfairly burdening the system. Earlier that year, for example, Newburgh, NY made national news because of a purported welfare crisis when the city manager blamed the town's economic troubles on African Americans who had migrated there from the South in the 1950s. (45) The black New Yorkers previously surveyed by Lubell, particularly those in housing projects, who offered informed commentary on all nature of political topics and concerns that in turn determined their political choices were now a highly-suggestable electorate to be bought and sold with favors. This depiction of black voters is particularly notable because they were portrayed as an aberrant voting bloc, but the following day Lubell ran a separate article, where he reported that the majority of voters in New York City, regardless of race, had voted for Wagner because of party loyalty rather than genuine enthusiasm. He credited the mayor's third term reelection to the sentiment expressed by one voter whose race was not identified: "I just can't bring myself to vote for a Republican." He also added that voters made this choice despite complaining of "all these scandals" at city hall and not feeling "safe to walk the streets at night." (46) Despite Lubell's conclusion that the majority of New York City voters supported Wagner out of emotion or custom, he singled out black voters in his first article as being uniquely emotional or transactional. His emphasis on welfare programs or social services being synonymous with Democrats would also help support the impression that black voters were unreachable by an ideologically conservative, pro-small government Republican Party, when African Americans had for decades proven themselves in search of jobs and the party that provided economic security and civil rights not political favors.
While Wagner received greater support from blacks and Puerto Ricans than he did from other groups in New York, local newspaper coverage in New York City suggests that these results were the result of more complex factors than presented by Lubell's analysis of the mayoral race. The Amsterdam News endorsed Wagner citing, among other areas, his record of integrating city schools and housing with his "Open Enrollment" policy and Brown Housing Law, his successful effort to build more housing, and his record of appointing African Americans to prominent positions. (47) At a rally in support of Wagner's Republican opponent Louis J. Lefkowitz's candidacy, Governor Nelson Rockefeller encouraged fellow Republicans "to gain the confidence and reflect the interest of minority groups in industrial cities." (48) Lefkowitz ran a well-funded campaign for support in black and Puerto Rican districts--more so than other Republican candidates in the previous ten years--at a number of rallies he pledged more effective leadership in the areas of improving schools in minority areas, fighting crime, encouraging the integration of housing and unions, and the appointment of school board members that represented black communities. (49) J. Raymond Jones, an African American Democratic leader of the Thirteenth Assembly District East, noted that some predominately African American districts had supported Lefkowitz. Despite Lubell's portrayal of black voters being swayed by the opinions of black leaders and political favors, the New York Times reported that after the election, Wagner was facing a test in Harlem because black voters and party leaders were now calling for more blacks to be appointed to City and County-wide party leadership roles. He also needed to contend with Adam Clayton Powell, who was described as a vociferous critic of Wagner. Despite Powell joining the Tammany Hall leader Carmine De Sapio in opposing Wagner's re-nomination, the mayor won two-thirds of Harlem's vote in the primary and three-fourths of the general election vote. Local coverage of the race demonstrates that black voters were not simply satisfied with so-called handouts; they sought representation and leadership roles by asserting their political will. (50)
Ultimately, Lubell's syndicated articles in the early 1960s described black voters as apart from their peers because of their loyalty to the Democratic Party and expectation for quid pro quo politics. Such depictions could potentially have a lasting impact on voting patterns in America. In White and Black, Lubell speculated that Negro loyalty to the Democratic Party would only confirm for Republicans an idea they had begun to consider more seriously. Their pathway out of minority party status was to appeal to white southerners disaffected by the Democratic Party's advocacy for federal civil rights legislation. At the same time that Lubell downplayed the diversity of thought in the black community, he emphasized the controversial nature of the black vote as a means to cause a major realignment in American politics. In White and Black he wrote, "In short, for the Democratic coalition the political danger posed by the swelling Negro vote is not that Negroes will bolt to the Republicans. The threat is that Negro demands may drive white Democratic voters out of the coalition." (51) Meanwhile, he noted that it was increasingly unlikely that Republicans would make "an all-out bid...for the Negro vote in major Northern cities" because Republicans viewed the black vote as being unattainable and that their best hope to achieve majority party status was to make an "alliance with the white South." (52) It seems significant that Lubell argued that the Republican Party was likely to court southern white voters rather than northern blacks because of the perception that blacks always voted Democratic. A perception that he helped advance in his syndicated column. Meanwhile, the raw data he collected demonstrated that black voters were not single-issue voters nor were they unwaveringly committed to the Democratic Party. By depicting black voters as in search of welfare benefits and social services, Lubell helped advance the notion that the interests of the Republican Party and African Americans were diametrically opposed. This is not to say that he was alone, African Americans were increasingly associated with welfare assistance in this period, but as a prominent political analyst his conclusions were influential. His conclusions may have contributed to the Republican Party's decision to dissociate itself from civil rights causes and made it more likely that leaders of both major parties would take black voters for granted. Leaving black voters to choose between two parties that were less motivated to be responsive to black political demands. Thus, limiting the possibility for tangible gains for African American, especially as the association between black voters and the Democratic Party would be perceived as a liability for Democrats in later decades.
Voting returns and party affiliation data are illustrative of the significant support African Americans gave to the Democratic Party after 1936, but they can obscure the reality that blacks did not vote for Democrats because of unwavering or uncritical custom or mere habit. Instead, the African Americans interviewed by Lubell evaluated each party's record on a number of issues--with special interest in civil rights--and because neither party distinguished itself in the field of civil rights they often made a decision based first and foremost on economics. (53) The gains for Eisenhower in 1956 at least suggest that the Republican Party could have become more competitive, in terms of appealing to more black voters, if they made demonstrated efforts to protect and advance African Americans' rights. While Lubell's interviews revealed on a number of occasions that African Americans should not to be taken for granted by the Democratic Party, he highlighted what he called the "sheer solidarity of Negro voting" or the "one element in the country that has grown steadily more Democratic." (54) Regardless of the deliberations expressed by black voters, they were still portrayed as a bloc of voters that cast their ballots in seeming unison. This is significant because it reaffirmed the truism that blacks reevaluated their voting preferences in 1936 and permanently aligned themselves with the Democratic Party, with a couple of minor exceptions, from that moment until the twenty-first century. In the process, it put a seemingly simple directive from Henry Lee Moon, which appeared in the same issue of The Journal of Negro Education as Lubell's 1957 article, further out of reach: "Any study of the political behavior of the Negro voter must begin with the recognition that he is an American citizen first and is basically influenced by the same kind of political considerations which motivate other American voters." (55)
By focusing solely on the overarching trends among black voters between 1936 and 1964, we obscure the thoughtful considerations of black voters, who may have ultimately chosen to support the Democratic Party, not out of blind loyalty, but because of its record of offering economic assistance to workers. (56) The evidence presented in this article challenges us not to think of African Americans as monolithic and uncritical voters after 1936. It also highlights the factors that convinced the majority of African Americans to choose Democratic presidential candidates time and again, while also underscoring some areas of dissent and contradiction in the African American community. African American support of the Democratic Party was not ubiquitous, but more importantly, it was due to limited and imperfect options and a desire to battle racial discrimination in the North and South. By giving this history short shrift, it becomes too easy to naturalize the idea that African Americans chose the Democratic Party in 1936 and never looked back regardless of the political benefits. In a period when neither party offered consistent support for the citizenship rights of African Americans, black voters faced difficult choices, but a significant number did not hesitate to support a different party's candidate from one election to the next based on the changing socio-economic status of African Americans. The black voters who opened their door to survey takers in New York City were neither single-issue nor single party voters, instead they sought the best option for themselves and their community.
Marsha E. Barrett (1)
(1) Marsha E. Barrett is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Illinois.
(2) Interview Transcript, NY Interviews + Notes, Negroes, Samuel Lubell Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
(3) "Exit Polls 2016." CNN December 9, 2016, Accessed May 5, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/election/2016/results/cxit-polls; "How Groups Voted in 2008," Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, Accessed May 5, 2018, https://ropercenter.cornell.edu/polls/us-elections/how-groups-voted/how-groups-voted-2008/.
(4) David A Bositis, "Blacks & the 2012 Democratic National Convention," Washington, D.C.: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, 9, accessed May 6, 2018, https://jointcenter.org/sites/default/files/Blacks%20and%20the%202012%20Democratic%20National%20Convention.pdf.
(5) The association between black voters and the Democratic Party has become so common that policy analyst Theodore Jones felt it important to note in 2016 that while African Americans' appear to be exceedingly loyal to the Democratic Party, the near "homogeneous voting" for Democratic presidential candidates in the twenty-first century "exist[s] alongside our heterogenous politics." Theodore R. Johnson, "Why are African-Americans Such Loyal Democrats When They are So Ideologically Diverse?," Washington Post, September 28, 2016.
(6) The New Deal was a series of wide-ranging domestic policies intended to address and moderate the economic hardship caused by the Great Depression. While African Americans were often unable to reap equal benefits from New Deal programs, particularly in the South or for those who worked in agriculture as sharecroppers, they did receive much needed economic benefits. Nancy Weiss's seminal work Farewell to the Party of Lincoln is the most often cited work on the New Deal era shift to the Democratic Party among black voters. More recent work on this topic, with a New York focus, has been published by historian Durahn Taylor. Nancy J. Weiss, Farewell to the Party of Lincoln: Black Politics in the Age of FDR (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983); Durahn Taylor, "From Hyde Park to Harlem: The Emergence of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Black Constituency in New York City," Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, 37:1 (January 2013), 7-73.
(7) In New York, the term "voting districts" often referred to State Assembly Districts, but not exclusively. The press in the late 1950s and early 1960s, for example, often referred to Harlem's 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th Assembly Districts, along with Brooklyn's 6th Assembly District, as predominately black or Negro voting districts. Some of the sources in this article refer to "predominately" Negro or black voting districts without identifying the location or type of district. While it is likely that the sources are referring to some of these commonly recognized districts, there were a number of places in New York City in this era that had significant black voting strength. In 1960, political scientist Gerald Pomper found that blacks constituted a majority of the population in one congressional district in New York City and over 40 percent of the population in five other congressional districts in the city. For examples of the term in newspapers see: James Booker, "Here's How Harlem Voted in Election," New York Amsterdam News, December 20, 1958, 35 and Anthony Lewis, "Negro Vote Held Vital to Kennedy," New York Times, November 20, 1960, 51. Gerald Pomper, "Future Southern Congressional Politics" in Harry A. Bailey, Jr. ed., Negro Politics in America (Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill Books, 1967), 437-438.
(8) There had been a number of outbreaks of violence in the South in response to African Americans' efforts to desegregate public transportation and schools, including bombings in Montgomery, AL and mobs preventing students from integrating schools in Alabama and Texas. Eisenhower worked hard not to be associated with civil rights activism, but the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision and a desire to weaken southern Democrats were major factors that convinced some African Americans such as Roy Wilkins to give the Republicans a chance. In a 1957 piece published in The Negro Vote in the Presidential Election," Henry Lee Moon credited the shift to the failings of the Democrats rather than the performance of the Republicans. Samuel Lubell also attributed the support for Eisenhower to incidents of racial violence in the South. Timothy Thurber, Republicans and Race: The GOP's Frayed Relationship with African Americans, 1945-1974 (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas), 2013, 67-77; Henry Lee Moon, "Editorial Comment: The Negro Vote in the Presidential Election of 1956," The Journal of Negro Education 26:3 (Summer 1957), 226; Samuel Lubell, "Nixon, Kennedy Close in Negro Vote Race, Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1960, 12.
(9) In Balance of Power, Moon examined black voting patterns since Reconstruction, he emphasized the significance of the black vote as a means to win civil rights gains, and praised the economic policies of the New Deal. He went on to edit the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's (NAACP) journal The Crisis from 1965 to 1974. Henry Lee Moon, "The Negro Break-Away from the Democrats," The Nation, December 3, 1956, 17; Henry Lee Moon, Balance of Power: The Negro Vote (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1948; New York: Krause Reprint Co., 1969) Citations refer to the Krause edition; Joseph Berger, "Henry Lee Moon Dead at 84," New York Times, June 8, 1985.
(10) Bositis, "Blacks & the 2012 Democratic National Convention," 9.
(11) In Manhattan, for example, black voters supported Democratic presidential candidates at rates around or above 70 percent between 1948 and 1956. Between 1948 and 1956, black voters in Manhattan voted for Democratic presidential candidates at the rate of 71.8, 83.2. and 68.9 percent in 1948, 1952, and 1956 respectively. Black support for Democratic presidential candidates in Manhattan was similar to the levels in other major urban areas including Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. Detroit, however, consistently produced higher levels of support. In 1948, 1952, and 1956, black Detroit supported Democratic presidential candidates at rates of 83.9, 89.9, and 84.4 percent respectively. Oscar Glantz, "The Negro Voter in Northern Industrial Cities," The Western Political Quarterly, 13:4 (December 1960), 1008.
(12) In his 1960 article, Oscar Glantz notes that while it was common to see references to Negroes voting "en masse" or "en bloc," he warned against think about the votes of any group in this way. He raises the point that what is considered voting as a unit could be attributed to shared socio-economic status. For this reason, in his article he referred to the "voting strength" instead of "racial solidarity" in his study about black voting behavior. He also notes that in 1957, Elmo Roper warned against making claims about bloc voting during a 1957 meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion. Glantz, "The Negro Voter," 1006-1007.
(13) It is worth noting that based on the survey data available, Lubell and the survey takers who worked with him rarely spoke to African American women. It is not clear if that was because of a policy made by Lubell or the nature of interracial interactions in this period. While Lubell tended to interview more white men than women, as well, it was more common to see him refer to white women interviewees in comparison to black women. Alexander P. Lamis, et al., "Symposium on the Work of Samuel Lubell, PS: Political Science and Politics, 23:20 (June 1990), 184-191.
(14) Samuel Lubell, "Poll Finds Few Shifts: Democrats Hold Negro Loyalty," Daily Boston Globe, October 4, 1956,40.
(15) Commissioned Survey by Samuel Lubell, 1958, Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), NAR, folder 477, box 47, J.1 Politics, RG 4.
(16) Survey takers spoke to 100 African Americans for the privately commissioned survey, while they collected complete interviews from 93 respondents. The survey was conducted in 9 predominately African American election districts in the boroughs of New York City and Westchester County. Commissioned Survey by Samuel Lubell, 1958, RAC, NAR, folder 477, box 47, J.1 Politics, RG 4.
(17) Generally, Lubell associated a preference for the Republican Party to higher income voters, in particular, voters who thought their economic standing would benefit from the GOP's alignment with the interests of business. In his 1964 book, White and Black: Test of a Nation, Lubell noted that higher income Negroes were more likely than their lower-income counterparts to vote Republican, but he said the new Negro middle class still tended to vote Democratic. Commissioned Survey by Samuel Lubell, 1958, RAC, NAR, folder 477, box 47, J.1 Politics, RG 4; Samuel Lubell, White and Black: Test of a Nation (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), 163, 166, 171-172.
(18) Samuel Lubell, "The Future of the Negro Voter in the United States," The Journal of Negro Education 26:3 (Summer 1957), 408.
(19) Benjamin Fine, "Troops on Guard at School; Negroes Ready to Return," New York Times, September 25, 1957, 1; Homer Bigart, "Little Rock Back on Quiet Routine," New York Times, September 28, 1957, 1; Karen Anderson, Little Rock: Race and Resistance at Central High School (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013.
(20) While Eisenhower did support the limited integration of small platoons of black soldiers within white companies as a general--he also made public statements supporting black troops' performance--he told the Senate Armed Service Committee in 1948 that he opposed complete integration of the army because you cannot, in his words, "[pass a lot of laws to force someone to like someone." Although Eisenhower's testimony aligned with the army's official policy banning integration, his position looked increasingly conservative or outdated when Harry S Truman signed Executive Order 9981 ending segregation in the armed forces in July 1948. Southern members of Congress who opposed Truman's decision often cited Eisenhower's testimony as evidence that the military should remain segregated. In addition to saying you could not legislate good behavior during his testimony, Eisenhower also said he opposed complete integration because African Americans were less educated than their white peers and would be unable to compete. Some black Republicans opposed Eisenhower's nomination in 1952 based on his position. Survey Results, BLYN-Bedford-Stuyvesant/1958,60/Negro, Samuel Lubell Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries; Richard M. Dalfiume, Desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces: Fighting on Two Fronts. 1939-1953 (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1969), 99, 159, 167, 217-218; David A. Nichols, A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 9-13.
(21) Commissioned Survey by Samuel Lubell, 1958, RAC, NAR, folder 477, box 47, J.1 Politics, RG 4.
(22) Although the same terms are used in this interview as defined in the previous survey referenced, this interview was found in a different archival collection and does not appear to be connected to the survey found at the Rockefeller Archive Center. Interview Transcript, NY Interviews + Notes, Negroes, Samuel Lubell Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
(23) Interview Transcript, NY Interviews + Notes, Negroes, Samuel Lubell Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
(24) W. E. B. Du Bois, "Why I Won't Vote," The Nation, October 20, 1956.
(25) Samuel Lubell, "Nixon, Kennedy Close in Negro Vote Race," Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1960, 12.
(26) Upon his appointment, Weaver was already well-known for serving in the federal government as an adviser on Negro affairs to the Department of the Interior and special assistant to the Federal Housing Authority, he went on to become the first secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Harriman's other high-profile black appointees included Herbert B. Evans, who served as an assistant in the office of the counsel to the governor, and Noah C. A. Walter, who was appointed to the Workmen's Compensation Board. Richard Amper, "Harriman Places 4 in State Posts; Woman is Named," New York Times, December 24, 1954, 1; Charles Grutzner, "Harriman Defers Decision on Asking Rise in Income Tax," New York Times, December 31, 1954, 1; "Harriman Fills Two $12,500 Jobs," New York Times, July 9, 1955, 31; Commissioned Survey by Samuel Lubell, 1958, RAC, NAR, folder 477, box 47, J.1 Politics, RG 4.
(27) Arvis Chalmers, "Rockefeller Gets Votes in Harlem," Knickerbocker News, October 24, 1958.
(28) Survey Results, BLYN-Beford-Stuyvesant/1958,60/Negro, Samuel Lubell Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
(29) Commissioned Survey by Samuel Lubell, 1958, RAC, NAR, folder 477, box 47, J.1 Politics, RG 4.
(30) Commissioned Survey by Samuel Lubell, 1958, RAC, NAR, folder 477, box 47, J.1 Politics, RG 4.
(31) Data was collected on June 27, 1960. Interview Notes and Summaries, Queens NY Negro, 5/35, Samuel Lubell Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries; NYC Negro Interviews, Samuel Lubell Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
(32) Samuel Lubell, "Nixon, Kennedy Close in Negro Vote Race," Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1960, 12.
(33) Data was collected on June 29, 1960. Interview Notes and Summaries, NYC Negro Interviews, 1960, Samuel Lubell Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
(34) Data was collected on June 27, 1960. Interview Notes and Summaries, Queens NY Negro, 5/35, Samuel Lubell Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
(35) Data was collected on June 29, 1960. Interview Notes and Summaries, NYC Negro Interviews, 1960, Samuel Lubell Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
(36) Thurber, Republicans and Race, 120, 131.
(37) Samuel Lubell, "The People Speak: Nixon No Sure-Shot GOP Choice in 1960," Los Angeles Times, October 24, 1958, 19.
(38) Lubell noted that the two most "highly regard" black leaders--Ralph Bunche and Martin Luther King Jr.--had yet to endorse a candidate. Samuel Lubell, "Nixon, Kennedy Close in Negro Vote Race," Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1960, 12.
(39) Samuel Lubell, "The People Speak: Nixon Must 'Crack' Dixie, Take Big States," Los Angeles Times, November 2, 1960, 12.
(40) John Dittmer, "Local People and National Leaders: The View from Mississippi," in Emilye Crosby, ed., Civil Rights History from the Ground Up: Local Struggles, a National Movement (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2011), 43-51.
(41) Lubell, "The People Speak: Most of Negro Vote Going to Democrats," Los Angeles Times, November 14, 1961.
(42) Lubell, White and Black, 128-129.
(43) The article also mentioned returns in five New Jersey cities, although not by name, and referenced southern cities such as Memphis, although the article did not include as many specific details. Lubell did note that in Atlanta the defeated pro-segregation candidate won 52 percent of white neighborhoods, but only 3 percent of the eleven precincts where 98 percent of black voters were registered. Again, black people appear to be a monolith, but the possibility of electing a segregationist had obvious implications for blacks that mattered far less for whites. Samuel Lubell, "The People Speak: Most of Negro Vote Going to Democrats," Los Angeles Times, November 14, 1961.
(44) Samuel Lubell, "The People Speak: Most of Negro Vote Going to Democrats," Los Angeles Times, November 14, 1961, 25.
(45) Welfare, or the Aid to Dependent Children program, which was instituted in 1935 as an uncontroversial program that reinforced women as caretakers, became increasingly unpopular in the 1950s as it was more often associated with black women and families as black populations in northern cities rose in the 1950s and 1960s. Prcmilla Nadasen, Jennifer Mitelstadt, and Marisa Chappell, eds. Welfare in the United States: A History with Documents, 1935-1996 (New York: Routledge, 2009), 17-32; Rick Perlstein, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (New York: National Books, 2001), 128-130.
(46) Samuel Lubell, "The People Speak: Republican Leaders Face Critical Test," Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1961, A26.
(47) "We Choose Wagner," New York Amsterdam News, October 28, 1961, 1.
(48) Layhmond Robinson, "Lefkowitz Pledges He Would Demand Theobold's Ouster," New York Times, October 18, 1961, 1.
(49) Peter Kihiss, "Lefkowitz in Bid for Negro Votes: Brooklyn Is Told Gilhooley Lives in Integrated Area," New York Times, November 3, 1961, 25; James Booker, "Dudley Leads 4-1 Sweep of Harlem," New York Amsterdam News, November 11, 1961, 1.
(50) Layhmond Robinson, "Mayor's Reforms Face Harlem Test," New York Times, November 19, 1961, 45.
(51) Lubell, White and Black, 64.
(52) Lubell, White and Black, 167.
(53) Some political scientists in the mid-twentieth century argued that African Americans--similar to new immigrants from Europe earlier in the century--remained more indebted and committed to Democratic machine politics because their lower economic status made them more reliant on patronage from machine bosses. Conversely, by this period descendants of European immigrants were said to have moved beyond machine politics because of improved social and economic status. Lubell made a similar argument in White and Black. Lubell, White and Black, 128-129.
(54) Samuel Lubell, "Democrats Hold Negro Loyalty," Daily Boston Globe, October 4, 1956, 40.
(55) Moon, "Editorial Comment," 226
(56) Bositis, "Blacks & the 2012 Democratic National Convention," 9.
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|Author:||Barrett, Marsha E.|
|Publication:||Afro-Americans in New York Life and History|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2019|
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