A gallery of African-American role models, most still alive, who have held or are holding political office.
Robertson leads off his 50 selections with former President Barack Obama and proceeds down the political hierarchy from governors to U.S. senators and representatives, “state leaders,” and finally “municipal leaders.” Though Robert Smalls (1839-1915) and several other 19th-century figures earn entries, the focus is really on more recent trailblazers—culminating in Aja Brown (b. 1982), mayor of Compton, California. Although there are occasional lively moments (“Following a period of youthful exuberance, during which [future Missouri Rep. William Lacy] Clay, Jr. hung out and hustled pool…”), the prose is as utilitarian as the page design. For the most part, the brief biographies lay out obstacles overcome and career accomplishments without capturing more than fugitive glimpses of individual character, voice, or even experience. The black-and-white portrait photos likewise share a bland sameness—unsurprising, as most appear to be standard head shots of the sort used to decorate office walls and websites.
Valuable for calling attention to many active and still-rising political leaders but fodder more for school reports than for inspiration. (timeline, index) (Collective biography. 10-14)