Lorn S. Foster

Emeritus Professor of Politics
With Pomona Since: 1978
  • Expertise


    In his research, Lorn Foster examines issues of race, community and power.  His current project is: “Black Immigration to Los Angeles, 1900-1950 and The Role of the African American Church in Social Mobility.”  This is a study of eight African American churches during the first half of the 20th century and how they shaped both the sacred and secular lives of African Americans in the community.

    One aspect of this study has been the collection and processing of church archives. Foster, along with many Pomona College students, was able to organize and process all of the archives of the Second Baptist Church Los Angeles (1885).  This collection is now stored at USC.  Significant work was also been done with the archives of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church (1907) and the People’s Independent Church of Christ (1915).  The archival research and organization was supported by grants from the John and Dora Haynes Foundation and the Seaver Institute.

    Foster was able to collect 65 oral histories of members of these churches prior to 1950.  Each of these interviews has been transcribed and stored.  One of the interviewees was Walter L. Gordon, Jr., who practiced law in Los Angeles for over 65 years and is the object of another study.  This portion of the research was supported by a grant from the Ruth Landes Fund of the Reed Foundation.

    Research Interests

    Race, community and power

    Areas of Expertise


    • Campaigns and Elections
    • Civil Rights
    • Race and Power
    • Public Policy
    • Urban Politics
    • American National Government
    • The Voting Rights Act
  • Work


    Lorn S. Foster, “The African American Church in the Public Square in the Post Civil Rights Era,” forthcoming.

    Lorn S. Foster, “First Churches Los Angeles Project: Studying African American Churches in the First Half of the Twentieth Century,” Western Historical Quarterly, XLV, Spring 2014, pp. 61-66.

    Lorn S. Foster, “How African American Church Archives and Oral Histories Help Us to Understand Black Life in Los Angeles Prior to 1950,” AME Church Review, CXXIX, April-June 2013, pp. 5-38.

    Lorn S. Foster, “A Paradigm for the Study of the Negro Church,” The A.M.E. Church Review, CXXVIII, July-September 2012, pp. 17-35.

    Editor, The Voting Rights Act: Consequences and Implications (Praeger Special Studies, 1985) and chapter, "Political Symbols and the Enactment of the 1982 Voting Rights Act"

    "Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act: The Implementation of an Administrative Remedy," Publius, 17-29, Fall 1996

    With S. Welch, "The Impact of Economic Conditions on the Voting Behavior of Blacks," The Western Political Quarterly 45, 221-236, March 1992

    "Avenues for Black Political Mobilization: The Presidential Campaign of Reverend Jesse Jackson," in The Social and Political Implications of the Jesse Jackson Presidential Campaign (Lorenzo Morris, ed., Praeger Special Studies, 1990)

    With S. Welch, "Class and Conservatism in the Black Community," American Politics Quarterly 15: 445-970, October 1987

    "The Voting Rights Act: Political Modernization and the New Southern Politics," Southern Studies, 266-287, Fall 1984

    With T.E. Cavanagh, Jesse Jackson's Campaign: The Primaries and Caucuses (The Joint Center for Political Studies, 1984)

  • Education


    University of Illinois

    Master of Arts
    University of Illinois

    Bachelor of Arts
    California State University, Los Angeles

    Recent Courses Taught

    • American Political Thought
    • Blacks in American Poli Process
    • Intro to American Politics
    • Race, Class, & Power
    • Urban Politics & Public Policy
    • Critical Inquiry Seminar
    • Senior Exercise
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, Faculty Fellowship for his project titled “Black Political Development in LA, 1910-1950: The Role of the Black Church,” 2008; Summer Fellowship, 1981

    National Research Council, Post-Doctoral Fellowship for Minorities, 1985