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The central domestic issue in the United States over the long history of this nation has been the place of the people of color in American society. One aspect of this debate is how African-Americans are represented in Congress. Kenny J. Whitby examines congressional responsiveness to black interests by focusing on the representational link between African-American constituents and the policymaking behavior of members of the United States House of Representatives. The book uses the topics of voting rights, civil rights, and race- based redistricting to examine how members of Congress respond to the interests of black voters. Whitby's analysis weighs the relative effect of district characteristics such as partisanship, regional location, degree of urbanization and the size of the black constituency on the voting behavior of House members over time. Whitby explores how black interests are represented in formal, descriptive, symbolic, and substantive terms. He shows the political tradeoffs involved in redistricting to increase the number of African-Americans in Congress.
The book is the most comprehensive analysis of black politics in the congressional context ever published. It will appeal to political scientists, sociologists, historians, and psychologists concerned with minority politics, legislative politics, and the psychological, political, and sociological effects of increasing minority membership in Congress on the perception of government held by African Americans.
". . . a very lucid, provocative and gripping book that covers an institution that has been well studied, but an area of that institution that has been largely neglected by congressional scholars. . . . Whitby's book would be an excellent text for upper-level classes on legislative behavior, legislative politics, congressional decision making, or race and politics."
—Charles E. Menifield, Murray State University, Congress & the Presidency: A Journal of Capital Studies, Autumn 1998
". . . Whitby's book promotes an understanding of the representation of black interests in Congress. It belongs beside works by Swain and Lublin on the bookshelves of those interested in black politics, legislative politics, the consequences of voting rights legislation, or representation."
—Charles S. Bullock III, University of Georgia, American Political Science Review, June 1999