For years, I have been hearing of African Americans returning to the South, actually seeing of evidence it as people I knew retired and moved back for the slower pace of life as well as younger friends seeking to be participate in the culture and opportunities of the “New South.”
“After decades of mass exodus, blacks are returning to the South in one of the most notable migrations of the new century,” reports Christian Science Monitor.
People are returning back to the South for cultural and economic reasons, having found the North hasn’t been as good as many hoped it would be. Just a generation or two ago, blacks fled the Jim Crow South seeking freedom from racism and better opportunities. An estimated six million blacks headed North during most of the 20th century.
The Great Migration slowed down in the 1970s and by 2010, the trend had reversed. That year, according to the US Census, about 57 percent of African Americans were residing in the South. This was the highest numbers in 50 years.
For many blacks, despite the slave history of the South, it’s about returning to their roots. According to John Giggie, associate professor of history and director of graduate studies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, “Owning land is a key component of Southern identity. Southerners with money invested in slaves and land, and those with land were the ones who came away with the greatest political clout. There’s always been that promise you bequeath to your loved ones. For those able to procure it, land became a prized possession.”
There are also economic reasons for the “return” as well.
“People move not only for economic incentives, but also to pursue dreams and escape nightmares,” says Michael Barone, a political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and author of Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and Its Politics. “The South, with its widespread rising prosperity, seems to be less of a nightmare.”
Still, the “New South” is not as racially diverse as the North. But this new migration could, like the Great Migration did, change the nation politically and culturally.
“One could be to boost the Democratic Party, as large numbers of middle-class African-Americans return to predominantly Republican states,” reports CSM. It could also “push” the right to become more left.