At the height of the problems in the Jim Crow South, many African-Americans thought the answer to their salvation was heading north. With overt and sometimes deadly racism at an all-time high in places like Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama, many Blacks packed their bags and headed for the likes of Chicago, Detroit and New York City with their families in tow. For a time, things were indeed better in the North. The racism, while still prevalent, was less brutal than it was in the South and job opportunities were more abundant.
Today, the South holds nearly 60 percent of America’s Black population, according to the Census Bureau. That’s the largest percentage of African-American southerners in the last 50 years. And with so many African-Americans setting up shop below the Mason-Dixon line, the opportunities to become economically and political powerful communities abound.
In a new piece for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, City College of New York professor Daniel DiSalvo discusses just how important this movement back to the South could be for Blacks. Besides having more jobs and lower taxes, and thus more money, Blacks may also begin having more political clout as they begin to vote Democrat in former Republican strongholds. Writes DiSalvo, “At the moment, black Americans are among the most reliable Democratic voters. As they move south and presumably bring their liberalism with them, they may help shift the political balance of power in these conservative states. Alternatively, as they move to states with better business climates, they may see their upwardly mobile and business-friendly attitudes reinforced and slowly shift to the right, even if they remain Democrats.”
Staunch Confederate sympathizers have said for decades now that the South will rise again. With African-Americans moving South with a lot of ambition and a little money, indeed, the South may rise again — but that rise is going to look a lot more diverse than many had probably assumed.
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