Biography

History forces us to disturb the silences of the past, write against the common grain, and disrupt conventional wisdom on our most pressing issues today.

Dr. Leah Wright-Riguer

Who is

Dr. Leah Wright-Rigueur?

An Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. An historian by training, my research interests include 20th Century United States political and social history, and modern African American history. My work emphasizes race, civil rights, political ideology, the American two-party system and the presidency.

At the Kennedy School, I teach courses on race, riot and backlash in the United States, the Civil Rights Movement, race and policy in Modern America. I also lead Race and American Politics, a multidisciplinary series of seminars and round tables, co-sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Malcolm Weiner Center for Social Policy, and dedicated to the most pressing political and social issues related to race in the United States.

"My first book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power (Princeton University Press) was published in 2015."

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B.A. in History from Dartmouth College

M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Princeton University.

Leah’s research interests include 20th Century United States political and social history, and modern African American history.

Her work emphasizes race, civil rights, political ideology, the American two-party system and the presidency.

Leah’s first book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power (Princeton University Press, 2015) covers more than four decades of American political and social history, and examines the ideas and actions of black Republican activists, officials and politicians, from the era of the New Deal to Ronald Reagan’s presidential ascent in 1980. Her work ultimately provides a new understanding of the interaction between African Americans and the Republican Party, and the seemingly incongruous intersection of civil rights and American conservatism. Her book takes a long approach to American history and not only tells an important story about race and the Republican Party, but also expands our understanding of the evolution in opinions and behaviors of everyday African Americans that supported or rejected the GOP on a local, state, and national level, between 1936 and present day.

At the Kennedy School, she teaches courses on race, riot and backlash in the United States, and the Civil Rights Movement, race and policy in Modern America.

Beginning in Fall 2015, Leah will also lead Race and American Politics, a multidisciplinary series of seminars and roundtables, co-sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Malcolm Weiner Center for Social Policy, and dedicated to the most pressing political and social issues related to race in the United States.