First, I would like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for leading me, guiding me, and providing for me everything that I need to do that which He has called me to do. Apart from Him I can do nothing and am nothing.
Next, the completion of this book was made possible by the love and support of my family. I am constantly reminded of the sacrifices that my parents, Nadine Medley and Joseph Brown, made so that I could achieve my dreams, often times setting aside their own needs and wants to provide for me. In addition, this book is in honor of my grandparents who were unable to achieve college degrees because of structural and institutional racism that prevented them from obtaining a formal education. My maternal grandfather, Louis Owens (Poppo), instilled in all his grandchildren that education was something more valuable than gold. Specifically, it was something that Whites could never take away. In his view, education would level the playing field between the races. When I was eight years old, he made my brother and me watch David Dinkins inaugural address as the first Black mayor of New York City. My Poppo explained that we were watching history being made and the importance of using politics as an avenue to improve the lives of African Americans. I was hooked; politics soon became my first love. In his memory, I am constantly reminded that I am the hope and the dreams of the ancestors who toiled before me. Furthermore, my entire family has been extremely supportive of my academic endeavors. I would especially like to thank my siblings Nicholas and Lindsey, along with the Hudsons—particularly Edward and Christine Hudson, and the entire Brown family. I am also deeply edited to my paternal grandmother, Janie Barham for her constant love and support during this process. Thank you to my family for helping me keep it all in perspective.
I am deeply indebted to my friends and loved ones that have supported and nurtured me throughout this project. This work is a reflection of their collective love, encouragement, and assistance. Thank you to Brian Lawrence, Cotilya Brown, Kyla Day Fletcher, Nicole Files Thompson, Teeonna Richardson Jones, and my friends from Howard University for continuing to (p.x) provide moral and emotional support. I have genuinely appreciated your friendship. A special thank you to Vernee Peacock for providing the initial design for the cover of this monograph as well as being my friend. I am grateful to F.A.T.E. 38 and my sorors of North Jersey Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. for their unwavering love and dedication to me and this project. I am truly indebted to for their invaluable support over this journey. I am also thankful for my soror-sistah-friends who are as close to me as my biological sister. Special thanks are owed to Lavette Bobbitt, Charisse Cisco, Lusharn Colvin, Tainesa Davis, and Kyrra Mosley.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the American Political Science Association Ralph Bunche Summer Institute where I benefited from the mentorship of Paula McClain. Without this program, it is doubtful that I would have entered a graduate program in political science. I am thankful for APSA’s dedication to cultivating a pipeline for minority scholars. In a similar vein, I am blessed to have matriculated through Howard University. I am certain that the foundation I received at my alma mater provided the basis for my academic successes. My experiences at Howard University exposed me to Black politics, its theoretical underpinning, contributions to the field of American politics, and its shortcomings. I am grateful to my mentors Lorenzo Morris, Jane Flax, and Julia Jordan Zachery who allowed me to challenge exclusionary practices in Black politics that would later lead to my research interests. While at Howard University, I was afforded the opportunity to serve as a research assistant for Dianne Pinderhughes. This invaluable experience also expanded my horizons of Black politics and allowed me to learn from and be mentored by a pioneer in the field.
I am thankful and appreciative of the guidance of my dissertation committee: Jane Junn, Susan Carroll, Nikol Alexander-Floyd, Leela Fernandes, and Wendy Smooth. I have benefited immensely from studying under them. I am extremely fortunate to have such dynamic women of color advisors who provided invaluable insight to this project. Their comments shaped this project into a more theoretically, methodologically, and socially responsible manuscript.
Next, I am sincerely grateful for my Rutgers University women and politics family. These gender scholars pushed me to ask critical questions and develop a more nuanced analysis that allowed me to grow as a feminist scholar. I am indebted to my peers, Adryan Wallace, Aiisha Harden Russell, Anna Mitchell Mahoney, Dana Brown, Nimu Njoya, and Sara Angevine who read various drafts of the dissertation and book manuscript, provided insightful comments, and were a true support network. I am also thankful for my friend and sistah-scholar Danielle Taylor Phillips who has laughed, (p.xi) cried, and helped me in more ways than I am able to count during this process. Now that we are both assistant professors I am so grateful that we can look back to our days at Rutgers with fond memories.
I would like to extend my appreciation to the University of Hartford and the Jackie McLean Fellowship that enabled me to complete my dissertation. Additionally, I am thankful for the support of the Politics and Government Department, Hillyer College, and the Sociology Department/African American Studies Program. I was fortunate to develop valuable professional networks and friendships during my fellowship at the University of Hartford. This project was made better because of the mentorship, support, and feedback on my dissertation chapters from Ashley Woody Doane, Bilal Sekou, Karen Tejada, Laurel Clark, and Jilda Aliotta.
This book would not have been possible without the support of scores of people, including my mentors and colleagues in the St. Louis area. First, I must thank my former colleagues from St. Louis University. I am appreciative of Amber Knight, Christopher Witko, Emily Lutenski, Jason Windett, J.D. Bowen, Penny Weiss, Robert Strikwerda, and Wynne Moskop for reading drafts and helping me to conceptualize aspects of this project. Next, my sistah-scholars group in the St. Louis region provided encouragement, offered critical feedback on this project, and were a source of much needed friendship. Many thanks to Ashley Evans Taylor, Kira Hudson Banks, Maki Motapanyane, Olubukola Gbadegesin, Sowandè Mustakeem, and Treva Lindsey. Words cannot express my love and appreciation for these women. I am honored and blessed by their friendship and to be part of this cohort of dynamic women. These women were an integral part of my support system during a particularly trying period of my academic career. I am grateful to Jonathan Smith for his guidance and mentorship. My time at St. Louis University was greatly enriched because of Jonathan; I am proud to call him my friend. I also appreciate the support of Farida Jalalzi and Dayna Stock for inviting me to share my research at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and embracing me as part of the women and politics community in St. Louis. Lastly, I am thankful to my church family at St. John’s United Church of Christ in St. Louis. At St. John’s I was able to both grow spiritually and mature as a Christian. My church family afforded me the opportunity to ask questions, deeply grapple with religious practices and doctrine, and become a disciple in a beloved community. Big thanks to Rev. Starsky Wilson for leading me along this Christian journey, the women’s ministry, and those who participated in Wednesday night bible study who truly became my family in St. Louis.
Furthermore, I remain very thankful to the network of stellar scholars who I count among my mentors and friends. My colleagues, Andra (p.xii) Gillespie, Atiya Stokes-Brown, Byron D’Andra Orey, Christopher Whitt, Lakeyta Bonnette, Jennifer Oser, Joan Furey, Justin Hansford, Michael Minta, Sarah Allen Gershon, Shayla Nunally, Stephanie Kerschbaum, Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, Tyson King-Meadows and Zenzele Isoke have been consistent sources of support. This community of scholars have read and commented on this work, provided invaluable support and advice, and supported me during this process. This book was also directly improved by their active involvement in its development. I am also appreciative to my research assistants at both St Louis University and Purdue University for helping me during the writing process. A very special shout-out to Christina Greer who pushed me to submit my manuscript to Oxford and supported me through countless emails and phone calls throughout this process. I am happy to join her, Marcus Anthony Hunter, and Dorian Warren as members of the B.O.C. as their #3. Without the continued encouragement and support of Alvin Tillery, I would have not been able to bring my work to a successful completion. Next, I want to thank my new colleagues at Purdue University and their encouragement and support of this project. I am sincerely grateful to have found a home in a nurturing academic environment. I am profoundly appreciative of the support of Rosalee Clawson, political science department head and Venetria Patton, chair of the African American Studies and Research Center at Purdue University.
This research has been supported by numerous fellowships. I express gratitude to the Political Science Department at Purdue University for the summer research grant in the summer of 2013, which enabled me to prepare the manuscript for final submission. The WELFund Grant and Dean’s Discretionary Funds Award from the University of Hartford, the Mellon Grant, and the Beaumont Faculty Development Fund Award from the St. Louis University, and the SUN Scholarship and Travel Grant from the Central European University have all supported this work.
Perhaps it is hardest to adequately thank is my dissertation co-chair, mentor, and my strongest advocate, Jane Junn. On the days that I didn’t think that I could continue along this academic journey, Jane has been my constant source of support and strength. She believed in me when no one else did—including myself. Jane saw my potential as a scholar and has predicted every one of my achievements before they occurred. Over a margarita (or two) we’d discuss everything from shoes to trashy reality television and strategize on how to navigate our discipline as women of color. While I am deeply indebted for all that she has done for me, I am even more grateful for what she has done for the discipline of political science. Jane uses her influence and status in the profession to build up others and draw attention to injustice; she serves as a powerful ally to those who are marginalized and mistreated in the academy. I strive to have the courage, internal fortitude, selflessness, and fearlessness that she has.
(p.xiii) I am extremely thankful to the Maryland state legislators who gave of their time and allowed me to interview them for this project. Without them, this book would not exist. Despite all of the support and assistance from all the aforementioned, any errors that have found their way into this manuscript, are the sole responsibility of the author. (p.xiv)