Ben Justesen

Benjamin R. Justesen, Ph.D. Author of "Forgotten Legacy: William McKinley, George Henry White, and the Struggles for Black Equality"

  • Ph.D. '90

In Forgotten Legacy, Benjamin R. Justesen reveals a previously unexamined facet of William McKinley’s presidency: an ongoing dedication to the advancement of African Americans, including their appointment to significant roles in the federal government and the safeguarding of their rights as U.S. citizens. During the first two years of his administration, McKinley named nearly as many African Americans to federal office as all his predecessors combined. He also acted on many fronts to stiffen federal penalties for participation in lynch mobs and to support measures promoting racial tolerance. Indeed, Dr. Justesen’s work suggests that McKinley might well be considered the first “civil rights president,” especially when compared to his next five successors in office. Nonetheless, historians have long minimized, trivialized, or overlooked McKinley’s cooperative relationships with prominent African American leaders, including George Henry White, the nation’s only Black congressman between 1897 and 1901. (Source: Amazon 2020, Publisher ‏LSU Press 2020. Read more.