African American Leadership

By Ronald W. Walters & Robert C. Smith

Subjects: Leadership Studies
Series: SUNY series in African American Studies
Paperback : 9780791441466, 336 pages, April 1999
Hardcover : 9780791441459, 336 pages, March 1999

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Tables



PART I. Theory and Research


1. Social Science Theory and Research on Black Leadership

2. The Negro Leadership Literature

3. Factors Affecting the Transformation from Negro to Black Leadership

4. The Black Leadership Literature

5. Leadership in Negro and Black: Problems in Theory and Research


Appendix A

Appendix B

PART II. Theory and Praxis


6. A Paradigm of the Practice of Black Leadership

7. Black Leadership and the Problem of Strategy Shift

8. The National Black Leadership Roundtable

9. Popular Black Struggle: Mass Mobilization in the 1990s

10. Serving the People: Unity and Accountability

11. Leadership Toward What Ends

PART III. Conclusion

12. Black Leadership: Toward a Twenty-First Century Praxis




Written by two of the nation’s preeminent scholars on the topic, this book provides a panoramic overview of black leadership in the United States.


CHOICE 2000 Outstanding Academic Title

Written by two preeminent scholars of the subject, this book provides a panoramic view of the theory, research, and praxis of African American leadership. Walters and Smith offer a great deal to students of black leadership, as well as important strategy and policy recommendations for black leaders.

The book first presents a comprehensive assessment of the social science research literature on black leadership. It finds that older studies (1930s to 1960s) dealt with the nascent formation of leadership theory, where blacks were located predominantly in the context of southern politics and had to adopt a conservative to moderate leadership style. The authors also review and evaluate research on black leadership from the 1970s to the present and suggest attention be given to studies of leadership that involve community level leadership, female leaders, black mayors, and black conservatives.

African American Leadership also focuses on the practice of black leadership. It begins with an analysis of the roles of black leadership and historical analysis of strategies or "strategy shift. " The authors then provide illustrative case studies of the styles of black leadership. They examine the continued utilization of mass mobilization in the form of boycotts, direct action, and mass demonstrations and marches. The issue of collective black leadership or the framework of unity—an illusive but necessary form of community organization—is also explored, and serious attention is given to issues, recruitment, and deployment.

Ronald W. Walters is Professor of Afro-American Studies and Government and Politics, and Senior Fellow at the Academy of Leadership, University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of South Africa and the Bomb, Pan Africanism in the African Diaspora, and also published by SUNY Press, Black Presidential Politics in America: A Strategic Approach. He is coeditor of Reflections on Black Leadership and Jesse Jackson's 1984 Presidential Campaign: Challenge and Change in American Politics. Robert C. Smith is Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University. He is the author of Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era: Now You See it, Now You Don't, and We Have No Leaders: African Americans in the Post-Civil Rights Era, and coauthor (with Richard Seltzer) of Race, Class, and Culture: A Study in Afro-American Mass Opinion, all published by SUNY Press.


"This book is the first comprehensive treatment of black leadership to date. It is both historical and contemporary in its breadth and depth. " — Rickey Hill, South Carolina State University