Robert Clifton Weaver and the American City: The Life and Times of an Urban Reformer

Robert Clifton Weaver and the American City: The Life and Times of an Urban Reformer

by Wendell E. Pritchett


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From his role as Franklin Roosevelt’s “negro advisor” to his appointment under Lyndon Johnson as the first secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Robert Clifton Weaver was one of the most influential domestic policy makers and civil rights advocates of the twentieth century. This volume, the first biography of the first African American to hold a cabinet position in the federal government, rescues from obscurity the story of a man whose legacy continues to affect American race relations and the cities in which they largely play out.

Tracing Weaver’s career through the creation, expansion, and contraction of New Deal liberalism, Wendell E. Pritchett illuminates his instrumental role in the birth of almost every urban initiative of the period, from public housing and urban renewal to affirmative action and rent control. Beyond these policy achievements, Weaver also founded racial liberalism, a new approach to race relations that propelled him through a series of high-level positions in public and private agencies working to promote racial cooperation in American cities. But Pritchett shows that despite Weaver’s efforts to make race irrelevant, white and black Americans continued to call on him to mediate between the races—a position that grew increasingly untenable as Weaver remained caught between the white power structure to which he pledged his allegiance and the African Americans whose lives he devoted his career to improving. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226214016
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 11/24/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 444
Sales rank: 949,039
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Wendell E. Pritchett is a presidential term professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of BrownsvilleBrooklyn: Blacks, Jews, and the Changing Face of the Ghetto, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

1          Preparing the Talented Tenth: The Weaver Family and the Black Elite
2          Fighting for a Better Deal
3          A Liberal Experiment: Race and Housing in the New Deal
4          Creating a New Order: Black Politics in the New Deal Era
5          World War II and Black Labor
6          Chicago and the Science of Race Relations
7          Searching for a Place to Call Home
8          New York City and the Institutions of Liberal Reform
9          The First Cabinet Job
10        The Path to Power
11        The Kennedy Years: A Reluctant New Frontier
12        Fighting for Civil Rights from the Inside
13        The Great Society and the City
14        HUD, Robert Weaver, and the Ambiguities of Race
15        Power and Its Limitations
16        The Great Society, High and Low
17        An Elder Statesman in a Period of Turmoil
Abbreviations Used in Notes
Figure Credits

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