Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Susan T. Gooden


Since the Civil Rights era, African Americans have come a long way. In the years since the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, there have been dramatic increases in education, political representation, business ownership, and occupational position. Yet, for all of the economic, social and political advances made in the African American community, many young people are still subjected to inferior schools, housing and depressed communities where crime, drugs, police brutality and HIV/AIDS run rampant. As a result, there is a growing tension among the community over the root causes of their predicament and the most adequate way of dealing with them. Based on the generational political theory, this dissertation examines generational effects within the African American community since 1964. From this period, three distinct cohorts are analyzed: the Civil Rights, Integration, and Hip Hop generations. The objective is to determine if different experiences over this period have modified political values, attitudes, and behaviors from one generation to the next. Using data from the 1996 National Black Elections Study (NBES), I examine public policy preferences and political attitudes of African Americans. I use bivariate and multivariate analysis to show generational gaps in attitudes about issues related to major party performance. I draw three major conclusions from this analysis. First, racial group interests remain powerfully important across all cohorts. Next, the Hip Hop generation tends to hold more conservative attitudes than either the Civil Rights or the Integration generations. Finally, I conclude that at the very core of black politics, political values have not changed. However, there is a tension among the Hip Hop cohort between the impending attitudinal changes and the more traditional values of the Civil Rights cohort. The proposed dissertation contributes to the body of research by analyzing generational politics and behavior to better understand the future of black politics in the 21st century.


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Date of Submission

June 2008