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Ballots and Bullets
Ballots and Bullets

Ballots and Bullets

Black Power Politics and Urban Guerrilla Warfare in 1968 Cleveland


400 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: EPUB, Mobipocket, Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $19.99 (CA $26.99) (US $19.99)

Publication Date: August 2020

ISBN 9781641603119

Rights: US, CA & MX

Chicago Review Press (Aug 2020)
Lawrence Hill Books


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Examining the varioius forms of violence against African Americans that still exist 50 years after the summer of 1968

On July 23, 1968, police in Cleveland battled with black nationalists in a night of terror that saw 6 people killed and at least 15 wounded. The gun battle touched off days of heavy rioting. The confrontation was surprising given that Cleveland had just elected Carl Stokes, the first black mayor of a major US city, who just four months earlier had kept peace in Cleveland the night that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Now his credibility and reputation lay in tatters—the leader of the black nationalists, Fred Ahmed Evans, had used Cleveland NOW! public funds to buy the rifles and ammunition used in the shootout. Ballots and Bullets looks at the roots of the violence and its political aftermath in Cleveland, a uniquely important city in the civil rights movement. Fifty years later, the specter of race violence and police brutality still haunts the United States.


"A beautiful and moving portrait of a city that explains so much about our racial politics, then and now. Robenalt weaves together the stories of famous and not-so-famous black political leaders to show the consequences of racism and the ways that various leaders have tried to address it. An important topic that everyone would benefit from learning more about." —Michael Smerconish, CNN host and SiriusXM radio journalist


Ballots and Bullets is a comprehensive account of this key historical moment that still resonates today.” —Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund

“Jim Robenalt brings new perspective to difficult history with a fresh approach....Ballots and Bullets takes on the complicated story of race and the police, but expertly places it in the larger historical context that includes Dr. King, Malcolm X, and Robert Kennedy. [Robenalt] is a rising, original historian.  —Rick Ungar and Michael Steele, Steele and Ungar, Sirius XM’s POTUS Channel

 “My father blazed a trail in the black power movement by becoming the first African American mayor of a major US city in 1967. This book dramatically chronicles his rise and the intersection of his journey with Dr. King and others in the civil rights movement.” —Cordell Stokes, Chairman and CEO CLC Stokes Consulting Group, and son of former Mayor Carl B. Stokes (1968–1971)

Ballots and Bullets portrays a discrete but instructive chapter of American history.  The lessons therein are relevant today.” —Jeh Charles Johnson, former secretary of homeland security (2013-2017)

“Jim Robenalt tells a vivid if painful story of Cleveland’s place in the history of the struggle for civil rights—a struggle that continues today.  Reading this history reminds us of the work ahead.”—Jane Campbell, former Cleveland mayor (2002–2006)

“The history of our nation is a history of racial injustice and the fight to rectify it. In compelling prose, Jim Robenalt’s Ballots and Bullets does the vital work of shedding light on a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, when justice, civil rights, and the unfulfilled promise of America hung in the balance. His intense focus on Cleveland—the first major US city to elect an African American leader to the Mayor’s office—reminds us how quintessentially American Cleveland’s story truly is.”—Dan Moulthrop, CEO, The City Club of Cleveland.

“James Robenalt has taken on a challenging review of the interaction in Cleveland between Carl Stokes and Martin Luther King, Jr....The book is well written, well researched and accurate.  Any reader will be touched both in mind and heart.”—Joan Brown Campbell, General Secretary, National Council of Churches and Director of Religion, Chautauqua Institution

Author Biography

James Robenalt is a trial lawyer and the author of January 1973The Harding Affair, and Linking Rings. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.