Monday, January 19, 2009

Studying the new black leadership

Gwen Ifill on the rise of Obama and other African-American politicians

In her new book, journalist Gwen Ifill explores black political power in the post-civil rights era. Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama will be released on Inaugural Day.

The men and women identified by Ifill as "breakthrough politicians” are the children of the civil rights movement. Born in the 1960s and ’70s, they grew up in “a world shaped by access instead of denial.” They often come from middle-class families and attend elite universities. Business tends to be their vehicle into politics rather than social activism.

Ifill is the managing editor and moderator for “Washington Week” on PBS and senior correspondent for “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." In October, Breakthrough sparked some prepublication publicity and a flurry of angry blog posts, not because of its content but because Ifill was working on it when she was tapped to moderate one of the presidential debates. Now, to coincide with Tuesday’s inauguration, the work can be judged on what it says about the new generation of African-American politicians, which is breaking with the black leadership of the past. Read more.

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