A PIECE OF THE POWER: Four Black Mayors by James Haskins

A PIECE OF THE POWER: Four Black Mayors

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Another of Haskins' competent but totally non-interpretive collective biographies. Unlike the disparate subjects of his recent Profiles in Black Power (1971, p. 1220, J-460), all four mayors are moderates who dissociate themselves from militant slogans and movements. Only Charles Evers, whose tiny Fayette, Mississippi, is known solely for his election, makes interesting reading; Haskins whitewashes neither the viciousness of Mississippi racism, nor Evers' dabbling in prostitution, numbers and bootlegging along with shopping centers and civil rights, nor the coercive methods used by black leaders to ensure that their boycott of white merchants was a success. The other profiles are flatly similar, though a few distinct impressions emerge: the political ambitiousness of Carl Stokes of Cleveland whose sad story ends with the defeat of his chosen successor; the statement by Hatcher of Gary, Indiana (re his problems with white resistance which went as far as attempted ""disannexion"") that ""What's on trial in Gary is the American system""; the overwhelming financial troubles of Ken Gibson's Newark which illustrate that without the power of state and federal pursestrings an honest and able black mayor is impotent. The unintentionally ironic title is an indication of Haskins' lack of incisiveness, but his material even in this unprocessed state probably has a place.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1972
Publisher: Dial