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For Labor, Race, and Liberty: George Edwin Taylor, His Historic Run for the White House, and the Making of Independent Black Politics Paperback – January 21, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Mouser (A Slaving Voyage to Africa and Jamaica) uncovers the little-known story of George Edwin Taylor, an African-American journalist who ran against Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, marking the first time an African-American appeared as a political party's presidential nominee. Raised in Arkansas, orphaned at seven, Taylor made his way to Wisconsin, where he was raised by foster parents. With few details about Taylor's personal life to go on, Mouser fills in the blanks by dryly exploring Wisconsin's labor and racial history. Though by no means immune to the era's racial prejudices, social mores were less rigid in the upper Midwest, allowing Taylor to carve out a career in the newspaper business, where he made a name for himself reporting on labor issues. He avoided subjects that most African-American journalists covered until he'd moved into politics, when he lobbied for enforcement of African-American civil rights. No one, least of all Taylor, thought that a civil rights-focused presidential campaign by a black man stood any chance of success. His Midwest populist gospel was soon eclipsed by the push for racial equality from Eastern, upper-class black leaders like W.E.B Du Bois. Though unfortunately dull, Mouser's research sheds much-deserved light on a trail-blazing figure deserving of more attention. (Jan. 21)
More than 100 years before the historic election of Barack Obama, George Edwin Taylor, a black man born in the antebellum South, ran as an independent against Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. Taylor was a journalist and labor activist in La Crosse, Wisconsin, who aligned himself with white power brokers in journalism and politics and wrote fiery editorials advocating progressive policies. He was a midwesterner, not part of the eastern black establishment or the growing power base in the South during Reconstruction. He was a Democrat when most blacks were Republicans, and he took very progressive political positions, as for the eight-hour workday and pensions for impoverished ex-slaves. He eventually moved to Iowa and entered the growing movement of independent politics to develop a voting bloc to support African American interests, running for president of the U.S. on the National Negro Liberty Party ticket. Mouser draws on historical archives to chronicle Taylor’s rise in politics; his relationships with Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. DuBois, and others; and the competing agendas of the various African American political organizations of the time. --Vanessa Bush
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