Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. David Houghton

Second Advisor

Dr. James Visser

Third Advisor

Dr. Alan Issac

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This research attempts to create an understanding of generationality as it applies to successive black mayors in the urban setting. At a glance, the first black mayors of Atlanta, Detroit, and St. Louis received criticism for being anti-white and using racial conflict to accomplish their goals of diversifying the decision-making elites in each city. The black mayors immediately following in each city were criticized in the black community as being too accommodating to white interests as they attempted to find racial balance in the decision-making elite.

This research uses literature to establish the nature of early black mayors as believing it part of their job as mayor to: (1) Diversify the decision-making elite of the city, and (2) Serve dual purposes of being a black leader as well as the leader of the city. By comparing the first black mayors elected in each city to the succeeding black mayors of the same cities, this research finds the first black mayors in the three cities studied do fit a clearly defined generation that adheres to the two principles listed above. On the other hand, succeeding mayors strived to be ambassadors or technocrats depending on the city's needs.