chapter  8
18 Pages

Between Generations: Deval Patrick’s Election as Massachusetts’ First Black Governor


On November 6, 2006, the voters of Massachusetts made history for only the second time in the United States, electing a Black governor. Deval Patrick, a political novice virtually unknown before the election, stated he did not campaign as the Black candidate; in fact, he said, “If all I was off ering was to be the fi rst Black governor of Massachusetts, I wouldn’t have won” (Pierce 2006). Did Patrick’s candidacy transcend race? Can scholars classify his campaign as one that represents a new era in Black leadership? In the pages that follow, I show the innovations of the Patrick campaign. For two years, Patrick ran a grassroots campaign, visiting neighborhoods and speaking to voters about restoring hope back and making Massachusetts better. Along the way, he rejected large monetary donations from supporters and survived a brutally negative racial smear campaign from his main rival.