This book would not have been possible without the support of a number of people. A big thank you goes out to all the archivists and librarians whose knowledge and expertise guided my research at Brooklyn College and Rutgers University. Thanks especially to Barbara Winslow, who is the founder and director of the Shirley Chisholm Project of Brooklyn Women’s Activism, a digital repository of information about Chisholm and women’s activism in Brooklyn. Ronald Becker, head of special collections and university archives at Rutgers, and Julie Gallagher, an associate professor at the Pennsylvania State University Brandywine, provided me with essential research documents. Marianne LaBatto, the archivist at Brooklyn College, also located and scanned an important document within a matter of minutes per my request via email during the production phase of this project. Financial support came from the Department of Political Science and the Institute for Africana Studies at the University of Connecticut, which both awarded me small grants that supported travel to archives and undergraduate research assistance. For these resources and the people I came to rely on for their expertise, I am most grateful.
I thank my colleagues at the University of Connecticut—specifically, Ernie Zirakzadeh, Shayla Nunnally, Veronica Herrera, Michael Morrell, Melina Pappademos, Zehra Arat, Fiona Vernal, Lewis and Jane Gordon, Joey Cooper, as well as Jelani Cobb—for their words of encouragement and scholarly advice. Joey Cooper in particular acted as a sounding board and provided me with a second pair of eyes. He edited much of the manuscript chapter by chapter. He also made several thoughtful suggestions along the way. I could always count on him to read and reread the text meticulously with a positive, upbeat attitude. Thanks so much for your unwavering support.
Many of my friends, colleagues, and mentors elsewhere read this manuscript in part and at various stages—for example, Randolph Burnside, Mary Hawkesworth, Tyson King-Meadows, Beth Reingold, Katherine Tate, Camille Burge, and Ann Borrelli. To them, as well as the anonymous, (p.x) external reviewers, I owe a special debt of gratitude for your comments and feedback. They were all particularly good at stroking my ego and helping me think more critically about the concept of symbolic empowerment and the evidence presented here to support my claims. Monique Lyle provided a fresh perspective when she served as my discussant at the 2013 annual meeting of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS). Again, I thank you all.
I’d also like to give a special thanks to folks from various walks of life who supported me along the way: Wendy Haggerty, Elena Thomas, Linda March, Gina Ulysse, Sharon LaTour, Rhasaan Hicks-Wilson, Sherman Benoit, Shannon James, Sr., and Laraine Jones. They listened so attentively and provided words of wisdom on life, love, and marriage at critical times. Both Gina and Sherman in particular made me laugh when I wanted to cry.
Both my undergraduate research assistant, Rose Chambers, and graduate research assistant, Sarah Cote Hampson, were eager to work on this project and did so expertly and with confidence. I am so grateful for their amazing dedication and phenomenal work ethic. Rose located a rich array of scholarly resources from local as well as national newspapers to countless magazines and books on all four candidates—Chisholm, Jackson, Clinton, and Obama. She was also responsible for creating comprehensive bibliographies and locating direct quotes for each candidate, which I found most helpful when writing the chapters that follow. I must credit her, along with Sarah, for having located some of the most amazing quotes from campaign volunteers and professional staffers. Sarah also made use of the Roper Center’s ipoll search engine to locate public opinion data from CBS News/New York Times and Gallup/Newsweek. She analyzed several data sets across time—for example, the 1984–1988 National Black Election Studies (NBES) as well as the 1984 and 2008 American National Election Studies (ANES). She worked on the project at every stage even after graduation from the University of Connecticut, having assumed a tenure-track position at the University of Washington–Tacoma.
My son, Roman Marcellus, is a bundle of full-blown energy. He loves to tackle and pounce on me. At the age of 5, he insists that we play pillow fight, hide and seek, and read another book before bedtime. He keeps me both entertained and exhausted at times. Nonetheless, he brings me absolute joy and happiness every time he smiles and laughs a hearty laugh. I will cherish this time for as long as it lasts. I cannot begin to tell you how many times this little guy went to the printer to retrieve my papers and dutifully so with delight. Though the pages were often out of order, I would smile and show my appreciation nonetheless. And while Roman would agree to “alone time” for mommy, he would appear with crayons and paper (p.xi) in hand after an hour or so to inform me that I had had enough alone time. In an indignant voice, he would insist: “It is time for you to play with me.” The whole work-life balance issue for mothers with small children in the profession is never talked about enough. To my babysitter, Alicia, you were always so reliable and trustworthy. I thank you. I’m glad I could also be a role model and supporter for you.