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Leah Wright Rigueur

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR is the SNF Agora Institute Associate Professor of History. A trained political historian, her scholarship and expertise include 20th-centuryUnited States political and social history; modern African American history, race, democracy, and American political institutions; the modern American presidency and presidential elections; civil rights and social movements; and protest and unrest in the United States.

Rigueur’s award-winning book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power (Princeton Press, 2015), covers more than four decades of American political and social history, and examines the complex ideas and actions of Black officials, activists, and politicians, from the era of the New Deal to Ronald Reagan’s presidential ascent in 1980.

Rigueur’s research, writing, and commentary have been featured in numerous outlets, including PBS, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe AtlanticPoliticoAssociated Press, The BBC, Vox, The RootThe New RepublicVoguePolity, and Federal History. In 2020, she joined ABC News as a contributor. In addition to her work across multiple media platforms, Rigueur is also the host of the critically acclaimed and award-winning ABC podcast Reclaimed: The Story of Mamie Till-Mobley.

Currently, Rigueur is working on a book manuscript, Black Collar Criminals, which explores one of the most outrageous scandals in modern political history: the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) scandal of the 1980s and 1990s. Black Collar Criminals offers several critical interventions on questions tackling race, housing, policing, white collar crime, and federal power. Ultimately, Black Collar Criminals reveals a shocking history of corruption, fraud, and grift that helped pave the way for the present-day crisis of political malfeasance, federal plunder, and the erosion of American democratic ideals.

A faculty fellow with the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Rigueur’s research has been supported by fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, and the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard University. She holds a BA in History from Dartmouth College and a PhD in History from Princeton University.