Black Politics and the Challenges for the Left


  • Manning Marable



Race, Political Economy, Inequality


In the 1980s, there were two fundamental responses by African-Americans to the economic and social crisis generated by Reaganism. The first was represented at the local level by the mayoral campaigns of Harold Washington in Chicago and Mel King in Boston, and at the national level by the Rainbow presidential campaigns of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. These electoral campaigns were the products of democratic social protest movements, the consequence of thousands of protests against plant closings, cutbacks in housing, healthcare, and jobs, racial discrimination in the courts, and political process at the local level. The Jackson campaigns were a revolt against both Reaganism in the Republican Party and the capitulation of the Democratic Party to the repressive policies of the Reagan administration. In capitalist societies with parliamentary governments, the Rainbow campaign would have been expressed as a multiracial, left social democratic party, a political formation calling for the state to eliminate racial discrimination and disparities of income between people of color and whites and to expand federal expenditures for human needs, employment, and education.