Progress over Parity: America’s Battle to Define Racial Inequality after the Nineteen Sixties


ACLS HBCU Faculty Fellowships




This book examines the political uses of black social mobility by national politicians and intellectuals to shape federal social welfare policy after 1968. It analyzes dozens of mid-1970s news articles on America's growing black middle class and traces their origins back to policy debates among Johnson- and Nixon-era politicians over the effectiveness of Great Society programs. This project argues that before President Reagan attacked “welfare queens” to justify budget cuts on social welfare spending, Americans rallied behind these African-American “rags-to-riches” stories to affirm that America’s capitalist markets—rather than government—were the nation’s most effective engines of social mobility.