Penn State

Edgar I. Farmer - Professor of Education and Director of Community College Leadership In Workforce Education & Development Program, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Black Congressmen During Reconstruction: A Documentary Sourcebook

Author: Stephen Middleton

Book Description:

Stephen Middleton's book, Black Congressmen During Reconstruction, is my selection for the PSU academic community because it reveals historical information about the existence of diversity impacting the political climate during the reconstruction era of our nation. I would rate it -- "Two Thumbs Up" because it provides provocative and timely information concerning civil rights. Long before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, African American legislators serving in the 41st and 42nd Congress of the United States were arguing for the human and civil rights of all citizens.

Moreover, it is a documentary source book that depicts the life and political contributions of African American politicians serving in the United States Congress, two Senators and 19 Representatives, during a period (1865-1877) in which our nation was divided after the Civil War. It may be difficult to conceive that five years after slavery was abolished in this country with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment (1865), African American politicians were serving in the United States Congress (1870). It was as Charles Dickens said, the best of times and the worst of times for African Americans. Finally, my rationale for selecting Middletons' book is because of its similarity to my research focus on cultural diversity in America, particularly in the workplace and because it coincides with PSU policy and commitment to diversity.

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