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AUTHOR SERIES | A Terrible Thing to Waste: Arthur Fletcher and the Conundrum of the Black Republican

April 21 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Arthur Fletcher was the most important civil rights leader you’ve (probably) never heard of. The first Black player for the Baltimore Colts, the father of affirmative action and adviser to four presidents, he coined the United Negro College Fund’s motto: “A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste.” Modern readers might be surprised to learn that Fletcher was also a Republican.

The Dole Institute of Politics welcomes Dr. David Golland to share the fascinating story of Fletcher, as researched in his biography, A Terrible Thing to Waste: Arthur Fletcher and the Conundrum of the Black Republican. The upward arc of Fletcher’s political narrative begins with his first youthful protest—a boycott of his high school yearbook—and culminates with his appointment as Assistant Secretary of Labor under Richard Nixon. The Republican Party he embraced after returning from the war was “the Party of Lincoln”—a big tent, truly welcoming African-Americans. A Terrible Thing to Waste shows us those heady days, from Brown v. The Board of Education to Fletcher’s implementing of the “Philadelphia Plan,” the first major national affirmative action initiative. Though successes and accomplishments followed through successive Republican administrations—as chair of the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights under George H. W. Bush, e.g.—Fletcher’s ability to promote civil rights policy eroded along with the GOP’s engagement, as New Movement Conservatism and Nixon’s Southern Strategy steadily alienated Black voters.

In telling Fletcher’s story, A Terrible Thing to Waste brings to light a little known chapter in the history of the civil rights movement—and with it, insights especially timely for a nation so dramatically divided over issues of race and party. This program will include a book sale and signing.

To join this event on Facebook Live on April 21 at 3 p.m., visit our Facebook page by clicking the button below:

Dr. David Hamilton Golland is an associate professor of history, coordinator of humanities, and President of the faculty senate at Governors State University. He holds a Ph.D. from the City University of New York and an MA from the University of Virginia. His first book, Constructing Affirmative Action: The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity, was published in 2011 by the University Press of Kentucky and garnered positive reviews in the American Historical Review and the Journal of American History. His second book, A Terrible Thing to Waste: Arthur Fletcher and the Conundrum of the Black Republican, published in 2019 by the University Press of Kansas, is a biography of the “father of affirmative action enforcement.” Dr. Golland has also published articles in California History, Critical Issues in Justice and Politics, The Claremont Journal of Religion, and the AHA Newsmagazine Perspectives on History.

The Author Series

The Dole Institute of Politics has a legacy of showcasing celebrated authors and their works. These events afford attendees the chance to experience first-hand the insights of these prestigious writers, to ask questions about their works, and to have the author sign their books. From history to politics to personal memoirs and beyond, these events are not to be missed.

Video: A free live stream of this event will be available through the institute’s YouTube channel. Following the conclusion of the program, the event will be archived to YouTube. If any technical issues occur, the video will be re-uploaded within two to three business days.


April 21
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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