Johnson's analysis . . . puts Chambers' career into context with those of other significant civil rights leaders on the state and national scenes. It also draws parallels between Chambers' beliefs and those of international philosophers who studied colonialism and oppression. --Omaha.com
Amid the deadly racial violence of the 1960s, an unassuming student from a fundamentalist Christian home in Omaha emerged as a leader and nationally recognized black activist. Ernest Chambers, elected to the Nebraska State Legislature in 1970, eventually became one of the most powerful legislators the state has ever known. Omaha native Tekla Agbala Ali Johnson illuminates his embattled career as a fiercely independent defender of the downtrodden.
Tracing the growth of the Black Power Movement in Nebraska and throughout the US, Johnson discovers its unprecedented emphasis on electoral politics. For the first time since Reconstruction, voters catapulted hundreds of African American community leaders into state and national political arenas. Special-interest groups and political machines would curb the success of aspiring African American politicians, just as urban renewal would erode their geographical and political bases, compelling the majority to join the Democratic or Republican parties. Chambers was one of few not to capitulate. In her revealing study of this man and those he represented, Johnson portrays one intellectual's struggle alongside other African Americans to actualize their latent political power.
Tekla Agbala Ali Johnson, born in North Omaha, Nebraska, is the professional public historian at the Southern Preservation Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Tekla Agbala Ali Johnson, born in North Omaha, Nebraska, is assistant professor of history at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Quintard Taylor is the Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History at the University of Washington.