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Abandoned in the HeartlandWork, Family, and Living in East St. Louis$
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Jennifer Hamer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520269316

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520269316.001.0001

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Obama and East St. Louis

(p.185) Epilogue
Abandoned in the Heartland

Jennifer F. Hamer

University of California Press

The historic election of Barack Obama, cause for euphoria throughout the American black community, had special poignance in Illinois. Obama simultaneously served as a potent role model for black youth and formidable proof that racial barriers cannot prevent African Americans from succeeding. His entry to the Oval Office seemed eerily analogous to the rise of black mayors in industrial hubs such as East St. Louis, weakened by falling tax revenues, financial bankruptcy, declining infrastructure, and the dissolute practices of exiting white administrations. The charges of nepotism and corruption against the mayor are elaborated. The circumstances of East St. Louis provide an opportunity to reconsider the core values and direct attention to building equity and creating a just America.

Keywords:   Barack Obama, East St. Louis, American black community, Oval Office, nepotism, corruption, tax revenues, financial bankruptcy, infrastructure

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