My Wellesley

African Americans, Conservatism, and the Republican Party

October 24, 2016

Leah Wright Rigueur is an author, historian, speaker, and Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is an expert in race and politics, US political and social history, and African American politics and history. She holds a Ph.D. in History from Princeton University and B.A. in History from Dartmouth College.

Leah Wright Rigueur
Leah Wright Rigueur
Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Leah is the author of the award-winning book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power (2015; 2nd Edition 2016). Her book offers a much-needed critical examination of the tense relationship that exists between African Americans and the GOP. Providing a thorough reading of black voting behavior and opinion over more than half-a-century, Leah’s book also explores the ideas and actions of African American activists, politicians, officials, and intellectuals that worked with and within the Republican Party. In doing so, Leah provides a new understanding of black politics and American politics, and the tortured intersection of civil rights and conservatism. Her book has been called “the most significant book ever written about the collapse of black support in the Republican Party.”

At the Harvard Kennedy School, Leah teaches courses on race, politics, and policy in the United States, political revolutions, and civil rights and social justice movements. She also leads Race and American Politics, a multidisciplinary series of seminars dedicated to the most pressing political and social issues related to race in the United States, including presidential politics, mass incarceration, immigration, economic justice, and voting rights.

Leah’s commentary, research and writing has been featured in a number of different outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, FOX, the Atlantic, the New Republic, The Root, Salon, and the Daily Beast, Souls, Polity, and the Journal of Federal History. Currently, she is working on a book project on race and the GOP, 1980 – present.