Leah Wright Rigueur, Ph.D.

lwrightphd@gmail.com

Harvard University

Address: Harvard Kennedy School, 79 JFK Street

City: Cambridge, Massachusetts - 02138

Country: United States

About Me:

Leah Wright Rigueur is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is an expert on 20th Century United States political and social history and modern African American history, with an emphasis on race, political ideology, the American two-party system, the American presidency, and civil rights. Leah's award-winning book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power covers more than eighty years of American political and social history, and offers groundbreaking new insight into the relationship between black voters, the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party.At HKS, Leah teaches courses including “Conservatives and Liberals in America,” “Race, Riot and Backlash in the United States,” and “The Civil Rights Movement: Strategy, Leadership, and Policy." She also runs the Race and American Politics initiative, a multidisciplinary series that tackles the most pressing questions on race and politics in the United States. Leah's research, writing, and commentary has been featured in numerous outlets including MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, Politico, the Root, the New Republic, C-SPAN, and Sirius XM Radio. Currently, Leah is working on a new book, Mourning in America: Black Men in a White House, which examines race, political ideology, social activism, and corruption in the “age of Ronald Reagan” through a focus on one of the most outrageous scandals in modern American political history: the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) scandal of the 1980s.

Research Interests

Race, Ethnicity and Politics

American Presidency And Executive Politics

Political Parties and Interest Groups

Gender and Politics

Specific Areas of Interest

Black Politics

Black Political Thought

Black Women's Politics

African American History

African American Women

American Political Parties

Civil Rights

Civil Rights Movement

The American Presidency

Presidential Campaign History

Race And Politics

Race Class Gender

US Race Relations

American Political Institutions

Political History

Social History

American Political Ideology

Liberalism

Neoliberalism

Conservatism

Neoconservatism

Social Movements

Campaign Racial Cues

Countries of Interest

United States

My Research:

Leah Wright Rigueur's research is concerned broadly with questions of race, power, and democracy across American political institutions. Her award-winning book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power (Princeton University Press 2015) covers more than eighty years of American political and social history, and examines the ideas and actions of black voters, activists, officials, politicians, and intellectuals that worked with and within the Republican Party, from the era of the New Deal through the present. Her work ultimately provides a new understanding of the interaction between African Americans, the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party, and the seemingly incongruous intersection of civil rights and American conservatism. Her book not only tells an important story about race and the Republican Party, but also expands our understanding of the evolution in opinions and behaviors of everyday black people that rejected the GOP on a local, state, and national level, between 1936 and the present day. Consequently, Loneliness captures the complicated impact that black Republicans had on policy and politics, influencing not only contemporary black Republicanism and black neoconservatism, but also black neoliberalism. Currently, she is working on a book manuscript, Mourning in America: Black Men in a White House that explores questions of race, class, ideology, and activism through an investigation of one of the most outrageous scandals of modern American political history: the Housing and Urban Development scandal of the 1980s. In doing so, Leah's project reveals a shocking history of federal corruption, fraud, and institutionalized grift that helped pave the way for contemporary political malfeasance, federal plunder, and the erosion of democratic ideals.

Publications:

Journal Articles:

(2019) The History and Progress of Black Citizenship, The Du Bois Review

Tags: Race, Ethnicity and Politics, Political Parties and Interest Groups, Urban Politics

This article offers a broad overview of Black citizenship within the United States, concentrating on the major shifts in Black life that have transpired since the classical phase of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. We examine several critical aspects of Black citizenship including economic status, education, criminal justice and mass incarceration, and political participation. Our report reveals that Black progress toward equal citizenship is inconsistent at best; at worst, it is stagnant and at times, regressive. As such, we conclude that dramatic solutions beyond traditional reformist approaches are needed in order to realize genuine citizenship and equal rights for Black people within the United States. In closing, we briefly highlight a specific example of a strategic approach to advancing substantive social and political change.

(2017) Neoliberal Social Justice: From Ed Brooke to Barack Obama, Social Science Research Council

Tags: Race, Ethnicity and Politics, American Presidency And Executive Politics, Class, Inequality, and Labor Politics, Political Parties and Interest Groups, Political Economy

This article uses the racial and economic philosophies of Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke (R-MA) to theorize and define the contemporary political concept of "Neoliberal Social Justice." I suggest that Brooke, as a ideological and intellectual case study, serves as part of the theoretical and practical precursor, or history, to the neoliberal ideas, policies, and theories that would come to define a rising class of black political elites in the 1970s through the present. Brooke's philosophies also offer an historical window into a particular strain of “everyday conservatism” that manifested not only among black elites and leaders irrespective of partisan affiliation, but also within liberal grassroots black communities. I conclude by suggesting that a genealogy of black neoliberalism is important to our understanding of politics and policies since it expands and reshapes our perspective of how black politics have adapted or transformed, created hybrid ideological strains, and in some cases, remained consistent over time. As such, this article offers an important lens for examining the development and later proliferation of these kinds of “early” neoliberal ideas and the budding cohesion of black political elites around ideas of individual success, racial uplift, and the free-market; these ideas and this cohesion, in turn influenced the evolution of black politics and policy in the present.

(2015) Breaking Bad in Black and White: What Ideological Deviance Can Tell Us about the Construction of ‘Authentic’ Racial Ideologies, Polity

Tags: Race, Ethnicity and Politics, Political Parties and Interest Groups

This article contributes to the study of racial-group politics by examining how Black and White Americans create authentic racial identities through the regulation of ideological adherence to color-consciousness and color-blindness, respectively. The article first theorizes about the relationship between racial ideology and racial authenticity. We then illustrate our hypotheses through an analysis of responses of Black and White racial group members to Black conservatives and White racial justice activists, whose viewpoints and agendas are read as contradictory to the broad goals of the majority of their racial counterparts. We explore, through an examination of empirical instances of chastisement, exclusion, and public de-authentication of individuals who deviate from the dominant ideology of their racial group, some of the ways Black and White Americans attempt to control in-group political behavior and to enforce indigenous standards for group-based public representation.

Books Written:

(2015) The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics & The Pursuit of Power, Princeton University Press

Tags: Race, Ethnicity and Politics, American Presidency And Executive Politics, Political Parties and Interest Groups, Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior, Urban Politics

The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power (Princeton University Press 2015) covers more than eighty years of American political and social history, and examines the ideas and actions of black voters, activists, officials, politicians, and intellectuals that worked with and within the Republican Party, from the era of the New Deal through the present. This book ultimately provides a new understanding of the interaction between African Americans, the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party, and the seemingly incongruous intersection of civil rights and American conservatism. Loneliness not only tells an important story about race and the Republican Party, but also expands our understanding of the evolution in opinions and behaviors of everyday black people that rejected the GOP on a local, state, and national level, between 1936 and the present day. Likewise, Loneliness captures the complicated impact that black Republicans had on policy and politics, influencing not only contemporary black Republicanism and black neoconservatism, but also black neoliberalism.

Book Chapters:

(2011) Making a ‘New Majority:’ Black Republicans & The Nixon Administration, University of Florida Press

Tags: Race, Ethnicity and Politics, American Presidency And Executive Politics, Political Economy, Political Parties and Interest Groups

This book chapter examines the efforts of President Richard Nixon's "Black Cabinet," a small group of black appointees who pushed an economic agenda aimed at the needs and aspirations of middle-class black Americans, 1969-1974. In contrast with their more radical and revolutionary peers, Nixon's black appointees argued that desegregating the "free market" was the best option for solving racial equality and introducing economic parity. Despite the difficulties of navigating a White House increasingly hostile to civil rights, Nixon's Black Cabinet successfully enacted a broad economic initiative that encompassed minority business enterprise, education, and affirmative action. Their agenda was complex in that it was both ambitious and classist, privileging the perspective of the black middle class over the pressing needs of the black working class and poor.

Book Reviews:

(2013) Review of Alvin Tillery’s Between Homeland and Motherland: Africa, U.S. Foreign Policy, and Black Leadership in America, HDiplo ISSF

Tags: Race, Ethnicity and Politics, Legislative Politics, American Presidency And Executive Politics, African Politics, Political Parties and Interest Groups

This review is part of a roundtable on Alvin Tillery's book Between Homeland and Motherland. Within the article, I analyze Tillery's mixed-methods approach to studying African American elites and politicians' involvement with Africa (both as a continent and as a thematic foreign policy issue). I conclude by praising the book's significance to the fields of Political Science and History , while also calling for a more careful consideration of the role of black political ideology and partisanship on U.S. foreign policy, diplomatic studies, and black politics,