Is politics the best way to make changes in your community? How can one find a political identity? What is the relationship between Black identity and the US political field?

Through reflection and recollection, author Stephen Graves explores these questions as he describes his journey from young Black student, to politician, to teaching at a university level – all as a way to engage with and effect change in his community. Focusing on the author’s lived experience, this book will bring life to political theory and studies of American politics.

A theoretical examination of the concepts of the citizen, citizenship, and leadership, A Crisis of Leadership and the Role of Citizens in Black America: Leaders of the New School proposes to develop a prototype or model of effective Black leadership. Furthermore, it examines “citizenship habits” of the Black community based on their economic standing, educational attainment, participation in the criminal justice system, and health and family structure. It tracks data in these four categories from 1970 to today, measuring effective leadership by the improvement or decline in the majority of African Americans standing in these four categories. This book concludes that African Americans have negative perceptions of themselves as U.S. citizens, which thus produce “bad citizenship habits.” Additionally, ineffective Black leaders since the Civil Rights era have been unwilling to demonstrate the purpose and significance of service, particularly to the poor and disadvantaged members of the Black community. Contemporary Black leaders (post–Civil Rights Era) have focused primarily on self-promotion, careerism, and middle-class interests. A new type of leader is needed, one that stresses unity and reinforces commitment to the group as a whole by establishing new institutions that introduce community-building.