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Abstract

This essay is an exploration of the political rise of politician Edward W. Brooke and his impact on the Republican Party and the black community throughout the 1960s. I argue that Brooke's role in American political and social life reflected the convergence of civil rights and American conservatism, specifically as it related to the struggle for racial equality and the path of the Republican Party; within the article, I explore the ways in which Brooke attempted to prove that liberal ideas about race were not incompatible with the conservatism of the GOP; the black Republican also argued that once coupled, such ideas could be used to create innovative solutions to the needs of the nation's citizens. Ultimately I conclude that Brooke represented a centrist vision in the battle for the identity and direction of the modern GOP. Along with other black Republicans of the era, Brooke envisioned and fought for an alternative path for the GOP and for the nation—one that could provide African Americans in the 1960s and 1970s with an attractive and viable alternative to the modern liberalism of the Democratic Party. Brooke's challenge was dual in nature: repair the soul of the Republican Party while growing the confidence of African American voters. Indeed, Ed Brooke's involvement in the GOP and civil rights broadens our scholarly understanding of the diversity of black politics and 20th-century American history.

Citation

Wright Rigueur, Leah. "The Challenge of Change: Edward Brooke, the Republican Party, and the Struggle for Redemption." Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society 13.1 (2011): 91-118.