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"Clarence Lusane offers a searing reminder of the tenacious personal and political effort the country's highest office has taken to uphold racial privilege in the United States. In the age of the Tea Party and the short memory of racism in America, The Black History of the White House is a must read."---David Theo Goldberg, author of The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism
"In this fascinating history... Clarence Lusane restores the White House to its true colors."---Barbara Ehrenreich
"In a very accessible and polished style, Clarence Lusane takes us inside the key national events of the American past and present. He reveals new dimensions of the black presence in the U.S. from revolutionary days to the Obama campaign. Highly recommended!"---Howard Winant, University of California, Santa Barbara
Official Histories of the United States have almost universally ignored the fact that 25 percent of all U.S. presidents were slaveholders, and that black people were held in ****** in the White House itself. And while the nation was born under the banner of "freedom and justice for all," many colonists only risked rebelling against England in order to protect their lucrative slave business from the growing threat of British abolitionism. These historical facts, commonly excluded from schoolbooks and popular versions of American history, have profoundly shaped the course of race relations in the United States.
In this unprecedented work, Clarence Lusane presents a comprehensive history of the White House from an African American perspective. Here are the stories of those who were forced to work on the construction of the mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the determined leaders who pressured U.S. presidents to outlaw slavery; White House slaves, servants and Secret Service agents; black artists and intellectuals invited to the White House; Washington insiders who rose to the highest levels of power; community leaders who waged presidential compaigns, and many others. Juxtaposing significant events in White House history with the ongoing struggle for civil rights, Clarence Lusane makes plain that the White House has always been a prism through which to view the social struggles and progress of black Americans.
“Clarence Lusane is one of America’s most thoughtful and critical thinkers on issues of race, class and power.”—Manning Marable
The Black History of the White House presents the untold history, racial politics, and shifting significance of the White House as experienced by African Americans, from the generations of enslaved people who helped to build it or were forced to work there to its first black First Family, the Obamas.
Clarence Lusane juxtaposes significant events in White House history with the ongoing struggle for democratic, civil, and human rights by black Americans and demonstrates that only during crises have presidents used their authority to advance racial justice. He describes how in 1901 the building was officially named the “White House” amidst a furious backlash against President Roosevelt for inviting Booker T. Washington to dinner, and how that same year that saw the consolidation of white power with the departure of the last black Congressmember elected after the Civil War. Lusane explores how, from its construction in 1792 to its becoming the home of the first black president, the White House has been a prism through which to view the progress and struggles of black Americans seeking full citizenship and justice.
Dr. Clarence Lusane has published in The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, The Baltimore Sun, Oakland Tribune, Black Scholar, and Race and Class. He often appears on PBS, BET, C-SPAN, and other national media. The author of several books and former editor of Black Political Agenda, he teaches at Howard University.