Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version

January 2003


Published in African American Research Perspectives, Volume 9, number 1 (Winter 2003), pp. 38-47. Published by the Program for Research on Black Americans at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. Copyright 2003 Byron D'Andra Orey. African American Research Perspectives is available online at http://www.rcgd.isr.umich.edu/prba/perspectives/


In recent years there has been growing speculation regarding an increase in the number of African Americans identifying themselves as conservatives. Much of this speculation has been heightened by the increase in the number of African American elites who identify themselves as conservatives. This list includes icons like Clarence Thomas, J.C. Watts, Alan Keyes and Ward Connerly, to name a few. Despite the increase in the number of African American elites who identify themselves as conservatives, there has been a dearth of systematic analyses to determine if this phenomenon has trickled down to the masses.

Models that have traditionally been used to examine white racial attitudes, prove to be useful in our understanding of African American conservatives. This suggests that, in their efforts to ameliorate previous conditions of servitude faced by African Americans, traditional civil rights leaders will have to confront, not only the “new racism” exemplified by whites, but also the “resentment” expressed by African Americans. Lastly, it appears that traditional civil rights activists will have to do a better job of educating the young with respect to the history of the economic subordination and political disenfranchisement faced by African Americans in this country. Without such education, it appears that programs designed to enhance the political, social and economic conditions of African Americans will not receive the necessary support from the community in order to succeed.