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Crucibles of Black EmpowermentChicago’s Neighborhood Politics from the New Deal to Harold Washington$
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Jeffrey Helgeson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226130699

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226130729.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 04 June 2020

Postscript

Postscript

The Obamas and Black Chicago’s Long Liberal Tradition

Chapter:
(p.278) Postscript
Source:
Crucibles of Black Empowerment
Author(s):

Jeffrey Helgeson

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226130729.003.0009

This chapter argues that Chicago’s long tradition of black liberalism helps explain the rise of Barack and Michelle Obama to the White House. The chapter also suggests that President Obama’s urban policy agenda exemplifies the limits of black liberalism. Michelle Obama grew up in a family engaged in the kind of neighborhood-based black liberal politics examined in this book. And she and her family provided one of the key institutional bases for her husband’s rise. The president also benefited directly from the long tradition of black liberalism in his experiences working as a community organizer, in the ideology of Christian liberal nationalism articulated by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and even in the neighborhoods around Reverend Wright’s church built by black bricklayers discussed earlier (Ch. 3 and 4). The Obamas represent both the subversive potential and practical limits of the black liberal political tradition and connect that tradition directly to the broader history of American liberalism.

Keywords:   Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright, Liberalism, Black liberalism, Urban policy, Neighborhood, Chicago, Nationalism, Community

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