Indeed, the most common political experience African-American Members of this era shared was their involvement in politics at the ward and precinct levels. The Chicago political machines run by Thompson and, later, Democrats such as Edward J. Kelly and Richard J. Daley, sent nearly one-third of the black Members of this era to Capitol Hill. Local and regional political machines recognized the voting power of the growing African-American urban population long before the national parties realized its potential. At the beginning of this era, the relationship between black politicians and party bosses was strong, and many black Members of Congress placed party loyalty above all else. But by the late 1960s, as black politicians began to assemble their own power bases, carving out a measure of independence, they often challenged the machine when party interests conflicted with issues important to the black community. Unlike earlier black Members who relied on the established political machines to launch their careers, these Members, most of whom had grown up in the cities they represented, managed to forge political bases separate from the dominant party structure. By linking familial and community connections with widespread civic engagement, they routinely clashed with the entrenched political powers.