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An insider in the Dinkins administration, J. Phillip Thompson III, has taken a clear-eyed look at the politics of black mayors in major U.S. cities and their approach to social change. Black constituents, he argues, often assume black mayors will challenge conservative ideology and institute positive changes for low-income families, yet voters rarely exert the necessary political pressure to make it happen. “For blacks to increase their power to more effectively challenge opinions and public policies supported by the white public, there is a need for greater political inclusion and open political discourse within black communities,” Thompson writes. Although Double Trouble covers black mayors in Chicago, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and other cities, a significant part examines New York’s David Dinkins, for whom the author worked for eight years. Local black community organizing, which gave impetus to Rev. Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns, also helped Dinkins make use of interracial coalitions and grassroots outreach, he writes. Yet, once elected, the mayor was pressured by financial elites and the City Council, and was inconsistent for his support of low-income black and Latino population. Later, Dinkins went back to building multiracial movements and brought about policy changes for the poor, highlighting the significance of class in New York City. His influence was seen in Fernando Ferrer’s mayoral campaign for the “Other New York” in 2001. (K.Angelova) [04/03/06]

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