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African-Americans And The Reverse Migration

African-Americans moving back, South. We’ll look at why, and the lives they’re making.

In the past decade, the African American population of the Atlanta, GA metro area grew by half a million. With 1.7 million African Americans, Atlanta now has the second largest African American population in America. (K1ing/Flickr)

A century ago, 90 percent of African-Americans lived in the American South – and had for a long, hard time. With the civil rights era and the postwar industrial boom, American blacks went north in huge numbers.

They called it the Great Migration. Chicago, Detroit and more exploded with African-American populations and culture. Now, it’s the great reversal.

New census numbers show African-Americans headed South again. The highest percentage now live in the South since 1960. It’s a big, remarkable shift.

This hour On Point: African-Americans, headed south, again.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Isabel Wilkerson, professor of journalism at Boston University and author of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.”

David Wall Rice, professor of psychology and director of the Identity Orchestration Research Lab at Morehouse College.

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  • Grady Lee Howard

    This is a material condition and not a cultural phenomenon. You shouldn’t point to people chasing jobs and be discussing choices they don’t have. If the utilities are disconnected in one house (Rochester?) then people are liable to be leaving for a different house (Savannah?). But in the end disruptive change always disproportionately benefits the wealthy speculators. (Lower wages, fewer benefits and no unions in Little Rock.)

    • Ellen Dibble

      You think union presence is part of population shifts? That wouldn’t favor one race over another, but I think union benefits are a huge factor in economic shifts. One, it moved the president and Congress to favor job-connected health insurance plans (individual plans being prohibitively costly), which to me favors unions, because unionized workers have enough numbers/money to be able to function almost as a government-sponsored health provider (leaving out the self-employed or less-than-25-person units, I believe, per Obama’s insurance act). But once unionized, the only solution to reduce costs is to off-shore the jobs (except for public employees who by definition are on-shore). So unionized workers are favored, but working themselves out of employment. If African Americans are getting pushed out of the industrial north, they are following industry many of which I believe moved south decades ago, but then closed in favor of cheap foreign labor. So: I wait to hear.

      • Chris

        Worker’s wages have been stagnant for over 30 years. If the perception is that unions are getting oversized compensation, then they are losing on two fronts: they’re earning much less than they used to relatively, and at the same time being vilified for earnings they don’t get.
        The reason companies have to off-shore is to keep up with executive compensation needs. Executives might have made 10-20X what the workers made 30 years ago, but now it’s 500-600X.

        • Ellen Dibble

          “Good” employers do try to keep up with union wages and benefits, so the standard they set is vital. The fact we non-executives are all losing behind in terms of real buying power is certainly plain to me, and apparently to statisticians. However, I don’t know if anyone has calculated what would happen if the 500-600x you refer to were distributed at the former 10-20x rate. Would those “top” remunerations bring the rest up to where the rate of inflation has brought us? Vis-a-vis health care, plenty of the non-unionized are way, way behind, not “stagnant.”
          If the top one percent are getting that 500-600x, how exactly is it figured that this is such a benefit, a job-creating benefit, such that there is not a significant tax dis-incentive to allowing such out-scale remuneration. Presumably the excess is a benefit to the economy, since it isn’t a benefit to the masses. Divide the top with the 600x by the people who have been stagnant and see how far it would “lift all boats” if it were distributed at the old rate.

          • Grady Lee Howard

            It might be illustrative to look at China. More than 200 million people there are migrant workers. Labor laws are rarely enforced.
            As soon as workers begin to organize and form unions industries move to a different part of the country where labor is desperate.
            Some employment can’t be off-shored so in the race to below the bottom employers remain mobile and morphing in many senses here in the United States. When employers are allowed to flee responsibility this indicates a powerless, irresponsible and illegitimate government. Ellen, there can be no “good employers who maintain living wages and benefits” within such a structure. Notice how Walmart has a big market share and Mom and Pop downtown are “Available.”

  • Jack_cr2

    Wilkerson’s book is a fine one. Two questions for her: To what extent is the lingering old culture of the South (without the lynchings, of course) an attraction? Also, are there differences in attitudes of blacks toward northern and southern whites that figure into this reverse migration?

    Jack from Rutland, Vt.

  • Cory

    Prolly jus chasin jobs.

    • Ellen Dibble

      Maybe foreclosed upon as well. Or renters with mobility.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KGA6CNBWJZ3AU424EPYXSZY6NY Truth Now

    As a 29 yr old educated black male, I moved to the south(Atlanta) 5yrs ago because of the cost of living. I think most people want to live the American dream and at the time, being 24 yrs old, Atlanta was the place that I could move to and do just that. I was able to buy a home at 24 and in the 5yrs save a substantial amount.

  • http://en-gb.facebook.com/onanov Donald Baxter

    The issue of the rise in white populations of center cities like Atlanta and Washington DC should also be addressed here. This migration is primarily a suburban phenomenon.

    • Grady Lee Howard

      So, Donald Baxter, you know about “The Plan”?

      • Anonymous

        “The Plan”?

        • Grady Lee Howard

          It’s a DC thang. Mayors are always sellin’ public property (schools, brownfields, government office buildings, old prisons, etc.) to rich White developers for $1. Then the gentrification around the development chase multi-generation Blacks out de town. That’s a shorthand version of “The Plan.” Now they doin’ in in Cha’lit, Baldymo, an’ mos’ everwhers else. I kin say this cuz my granddaddy was Black.

          • Anonymous

            I wonder what would happen if a rich black developer wanted to do the same thing. I suspect that the only color that matters is green.

          • ThresherK

            Yep. Tammany Hall was colorblind to all but green.

          • Anonymous

            That’s a key point. What’s important is economic development in all groups. Money is power.

          • Grady Lee Howard

            Oreos are part of the “The Plan” according to my DC informants.
            They sell out to Whitey.

          • http://en-gb.facebook.com/onanov Donald Baxter

            Come to think of it, I actually have heard this particular conspiracy theory–in particular because I live in a small mid-western college town that has experienced a small black in-migration from Chicago (much to the alarm of some local Iowa City racists, by the way). It’s true that black people, and other minorities are being pushed out of larger cities because of increased property values–some of that migration probably is directed at Southern suburbs, and some comes to places like Iowa City. I’m not sure I’m ready to suggest that there’s an orchestrated “plan” that’s making this happen. Cities become devalued and more valued as time goes along. On the other hand, who knows–perhaps there is some sort of orchestrated force moving this along. As Valerie Plame said to a 9-11 conspiracy theorist at a speech recently here in town: “the government can’t keep anything a secret for long.”

      • http://en-gb.facebook.com/onanov Donald Baxter

        nope, i don’t.

        • Grady Lee Howard

          I did some venacular ‘splainin’, Donald. Just hit edit and search Grady. Disqus can’t handle the sequencing.

          • Blumina Clarence

            Hi Grady Lee Howard…

        • Blumina Clarence

          no you need to have…

  • Steve L

    What’s the big surprise? There has been a white migration to the south for years.
    Whites from the upper mid-west and the north east have been moving here to escape weather, job loss and high real estate prices for thirty years or more.

    It should be no surprise that blacks would move south, as well.

    As a southerner, I much prefer having blacks return home than outsiders move in and try to take over.

    steve in nashville

    • http://en-gb.facebook.com/onanov Donald Baxter

      outsiders?

    • Blumina Clarence

      where did you migrated to..and why did you migrate to there??

  • Ellen Dibble

    Where I live in Western Mass., the new census breakdowns show increases in Hispanic population (especially, I read, family members coming in to join those already here), but we also have slightly decreased black populations.
    So I am wondering, because the Hispanics I know locally are black. At least a lot of them are black. And one ceases to use the definition “African American” at all after a while, because there are so many variations on “color” among Hispanics.
    Is the definition “Hispanic” displacing the definition “African American,” because the people stopped in Jamaica, say, along the course of history?

    • Chris

      The influx is probably mostly Dominicans, so darker but Hispanic nonetheless.

      • Paul

        The world see’s the United States as ‘white’ even Africans label african americans ‘white’ or ‘american’ due to the fact generations of black americans being born and never stepping foot in africa. You could use the same for all africans born into latin american countries, only their country of citizenship usually give them the distinction of being ‘afro cuban’ or ‘black brazilian’. Do we not realize we use these same (insecure) labels to set us apart?

  • Anonymous

    This is an illustration of how tiring the whole subject of “race” is. People move around, sometimes for jobs, sometimes for family, sometimes for who knows what reason. A more useful discussion would focus on how much is the result of good mobility and how much comes from the insecurity that we face in the present economy.

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR
    http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/

    • ThresherK

      But mobility means having some money, having assets. If you’re poor and where you are and are living month to month, what is the likelihood that one can pick up and move hundreds of miles away for the mere possibility of a job? What does one live on in the meantime?

      And that’s where the intersection of race and financial resources comes in. (This would be a great spot for a Brad DeLong to discuss median household assets for middle-class and lower-middle-class families, with respect to race.)

      • Anonymous

        Precisely my point–economic status is far more important than skin color in how people live.

        • Grady Lee Howard

          Socioeconomic Class is the term you omit.

          • Anonymous

            I just try to put things in clear terms–poor, middle class, rich.

          • Grady Lee Howard

            So any damn thing to avoid the word Class?

          • Anonymous

            Class.

            Your point? I’m not avoiding the word, but “class” and “race” are different words.

          • Grady Lee Howard

            So poor, middle class, and rich are racial terms?

        • Carolyn

          You are absolutely correct, but it seems as though in America people mistakenly conflate class with race. Economic status and class play a much more important role in where and how people live, etc than race.

    • Grady Lee Howard

      A person can get downright energetic about race identity when they are a victim of racists. Then you are not what you decide to be, but you become what “they” say you are. It’s kind of a freedom abstraction, a social transaction. Be careful to check the correct box(es).

      • Anonymous

        I am what I say I am. If you disagree, why should I care? I understand the threat of violence that racism represented, but haven’t we moved past a lot of that? Like me or not, so long as you follow the rules.

        • Grady Lee Howard

          Whose rules are those?

  • Tina

    Isabel Wilkerson’s book is so beautifully written! For anyone who is interested in the topic of the various migrations experienced by African-Americans, I can mention just a few other books you might like. There is Ira Berlin’s The Making of African America. I haven’t finished it yet, so I’m not sure if he makes reference to this Reverse Migration; he does tell about Africans who are now coming to the United States. Nell Irvin Painter’s Exodusters is another, tho I have not seen or read it yet; but she is also a wonderful writer and scholar. Of course, each book has fabulous bibliographies, so you might be able to find books about the specific area or time period you’re interested in from those listings.

  • Ellen Dibble

    http://freshfiction.com/book.php?id=41363
    I am recalling a previous OnPoint show with Wilkerson, and if I’m right, it was about The Warmth of Other Sons, a September 2010 book, regarding the migration north. Sounds like an interesting pair of books to have.

  • Jim

    One of your guests just said that the South is more welcoming to all Americans. That is simply not true. I am a gay American, and I fled NC because of anti-gay bigotry, informal and legal. I am certainly not welcome in the South, where laws are on the books that actively discriminate against me. Your guest is wrong.

    • Grady Lee Howard

      I second that emotion.

    • Tina

      Jim, It’s good that you indict North Carolina. Discriminatory laws and behaviors thrive when people don’t know about them. I’m sorry that this happened to you; I’m ashamed that anywhere in America that this should happen; but you are right and brave to point out the bad, discriminatory laws and activities and the locales where they are in place.

      To tie your point back to African-Americans, most Americans don’t even know a fraction of the discriminatory laws and behaviors that were in place against African-Americans over the centuries. Actually, Tom just asked for a perspective of “where we’ve been, and where we’ve come”. I believe that if more Americans knew more about the heaps of specifics about “where we’ve been” that people would be more readily alert to parallel tactics of discrimination and bigotry when it happens now, including when it is against gays. Some of the structures that promote one form of hatred are used to promote other forms of hatred. Not allowing marriage between slaves (which was often part of the legal picture for a long time, tho not always & not everywhere; and when slave marriages were allowed, it was often because it was good for the slave owners) was one way of “controlling” African-Americans; the Bible was quoted as a source for the reasoning behind many discriminatory laws and practices, etc. If more people could come to see the necessity of having strong Human and Civil Rights foundations for all aspects of human life, they might be able to see that the excuses they cling to for why discrimination is “okay” (sic) are NOT, in fact, justifications for discriminatory laws, but are, instead, part of the package of TACTICS that have been used to keep specific groups of people down.

      We wouldn’t even be in such debt to China if we had insisted on only trading with a country if it had strong Civil and Human Rights laws and practices on its books and in its behavior. And, of course, we need to be vigilantly enforcing Civil & Human rights here and in our practices abroad!

      Best Wishes to you. Keep speaking out!

      • http://www.facebook.com/tone.rose.9 Tone Rose

         Lord , that you for sending the world  Homo’s. Im not being greedy put could you please send us another way of living to help extradite the extinction of the white race.

    • Megaxtars

      You didn’t live in Fayetteville that’s for sure.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tone.rose.9 Tone Rose

       Wait!!
       you actually thought that fagotry was tolerated down south?

  • Alan Shulman, NH

    As a Jew rather than an African-American, I would never consider moving back to Ukraine where my forebearers are from, no matter what the lure of culture, music, economics might be.

    The South is an area that still hasn’t come to terms with the results of the Civil War.

    • Anonymous

      Come to terms? Given the mobility of American culture these days, the South is no longer a monolithic entity. What coming to terms do you think we need?

      • Alan Shulman, NH

        There are many voices coming from the South these days that I am aware of that would like to rewrite the history, restore the “glory” of the confederacy from an historical perspective, reinterpret the 14th amendment, counter the efforts of the freedom riders to open up businesses to non-discrimination…

        My experience of the South as a culture is that it is not that changed from the 1970s – still bigoted outside the major cities, still socially reactionary, anti-union, religiously narrow, creationist…

        I would no more consider raising a family and exposing my children to all that is Southern Culture in say South Carolina or Mississippi than I would raising one in Saudi Arabia.

        Yes, the North for sure has its own version of bigotry. I’ve seen that first hand too, but there’s also a history of progressivism in the North as well to somewhat balance it. Where is that in the South? I hear a resurgence of “State’s Rights” rhetoric from paarts south.

        • Brett

          Alan, that’s dead on!

  • Jean

    There is another factor…as children, many of these Northerns Once-Removed spent the summers in the south with relatives. This kept them in contact with family (they knew them!) and the more relaxed way of life in the south would have been additional motivators for the reversed migration.

    Jean in Columbia, SC

  • Ellen Dibble

    Ways of interacting that are different in the South?
    I’m trying to square that. In the 1950s, growing up in small-town southern Connecticut, in a factory town, there were many ethnicities, each living on a separate hill by the river. On the river bank, in a wee hut, lived our cleaning lady and her husband, two alcoholics, the husband with no evident means of support. I didn’t learn much about southern culture from them. But after a flood totally annihilated their hut, we imported a cleaning lady from another town, and this one did have southern culture. She seemed superstitious, which was bizarre to a child, and knew things about food that were beyond my ken. Instead of jello, she knew about long-cooked beans, in deep fry. Various things.

  • Drtsc

    Audio of this show will be available shortly after broadcast
    Monday, March 28, 2011 at 10:00 AM EDT

    * E-mail
    *
    *

    Fees And Free-Riders: The News Content Paywall Debate

    The New York Times “paywall” goes up. Others, too. Are online readers willing to pay for news that was once free?

    (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    Since the rise of the Internet, the tide has been running hard against newspapers.

    The web took eyeballs and advertisers, but it didn’t make up lost revenues. What’s more, it trained readers to expect the news for free.

    Monday, the New York Times tries to turn the tide — it’s putting up a “paywall.” Read a little of the Times online, and it’s still free. Read more, and you’ll have to pay.

    There’s a raging debate over whether that is wise and necessary or just lunacy. Every newspaper is watching the experiment.

    This hour On Point: Paying for news — the paywall goes up at the New York Times.

    - Tom Ashbrook

    Guests:

    Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst and regular columnist for Nieman Media Lab.org and his own blog Newsonomics.com.

    John Payton, CEO of the Journal Register Company, which is one of the largest news and information companies in United States with more than 300 print and online products, reaching 16 million users a month.

    David Carr, writes the Media Equation column for the New York Times.

    David Hayes, web developer and creator of NYT Clean, a tool designed to get around the Times paywall, found on his blog Euri.ca.

    More:

    Watch John Payton and Ken Doctor at this week’s Newspaper Association of America convetion session on “Newspapers—A Path Forward.”

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    Thank you to Ms Wilkerson, who put the fear factor back in the great migration equation. You, or your brother, or your father, or your husband could be lynched for just existing in the South before 1970, and your life may well have been a living hell as you attempted to raise your children with some self-respect.
    *

    Fees And Free-Riders: The News Content Paywall Debate

    The New York Times “paywall” goes up. Others, too. Are online readers willing to pay for news that was once free?

    (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    Since the rise of the Internet, the tide has been running hard against newspapers.

    The web took eyeballs and advertisers, but it didn’t make up lost revenues. What’s more, it trained readers to expect the news for free.

    Monday, the New York Times tries to turn the tide — it’s putting up a “paywall.” Read a little of the Times online, and it’s still free. Read more, and you’ll have to pay.

    There’s a raging debate over whether that is wise and necessary or just lunacy. Every newspaper is watching the experiment.

    This hour On Point: Paying for news — the paywall goes up at the New York Times.

    - Tom Ashbrook

    Guests:

    Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst and regular columnist for Nieman Media Lab.org and his own blog Newsonomics.com.

    John Payton, CEO of the Journal Register Company, which is one of the largest news and information companies in United States with more than 300 print and online products, reaching 16 million users a month.

    David Carr, writes the Media Equation column for the New York Times.

    David Hayes, web developer and creator of NYT Clean, a tool designed to get around the Times paywall, found on his blog Euri.ca.

    More:

    Watch John Payton and Ken Doctor at this week’s Newspaper Association of America convetion session on “Newspapers—A Path Forward.”

    Community
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    Drtsc [Moderator] 0 minutes ago
    Thank you to Ms Wilkerson, who put the fear factor back in the great migration equation. You, or your brother, or your father, or your husband could be lynched for just existing in the South before 1970, and your life may well have been a living hell as you attempted to raise your children with some self-respect.

  • Drtsc

    Thank you to Ms Wilkerson, who put the fear factor back in the great migration equation. You, or your brother, or your father, or your husband could be lynched for just existing in the South before 1970, and your life may well have been a living hell as you attempted to raise your children with some self-respect.

  • Michelle

    How are the more educated wealthy reverse migration generation finding the southern African American who is still very much in financial difficulties? The uneducated African American who has not risen above all of the poverty and prejudices?? Do they reach out to this community in a “Bill Cosby” example? There is an opportunity to do some good is this happening?

    • Grady Lee Howard

      My Black friend Seymour Poussant, a marketeer, moved back from DC to Rock Hill, SC so he could inherit his mother’s nice brick and stone home. He claims to enjoy “messing with the White macho locals” too, which gives him great pleasure. He travels frequently in his work and says native Southern rurals are generally more primitive socially and culturally than the basest laborers and tourist workers in Malaysia. Anyway, the Malays are more likely to look around to see who’s watching before they spit, says Morey.

  • Anonymous

    According to the caller, “progressive” means service with a smile? How far we have fallen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001123846580 Melvile Dewey

    I am white; grew up in Detroit; lived on Long Island; been in Nashville are for 27 years. Northern area highly bigoted, but it’s cloaked. In 1978, LI was housing steered; in Detroit, always bigoted against AfAm and now Muslims. I’d take the South any day. At least if some one here is a bigot (and there are pockets of extreme bigotry) they are in the open.

  • Robynne

    I was born, raised, matured in the North and have lived in Hampton Roads area of Virginia for the past 20 years. I can’t wait to go BACK NORTH! I’ve found the “southern hospitality” at its roots, very superficial, an underlying pervasive ‘plantation mentality’ among white AND black people dispite advanced educational backgrounds, I’ve found less progressive, even ignorant & provincial attitudes, ignorance of contemporary cultural values: hotbeds of homophobia, non-awareness of enlightened women!

    • Ellen Dibble

      Oh, geez, Robynne, all the more important to infiltrate that Southern “plantation mentality.” You go, girl!
      It sounds like entrenched paternalism. The patriarchy with its let the upper crust rule, and just go to church and be complaint. Don’t step out of bounds in thinking or in acting. Enjoy the status quo. Did I mention the word “Republican”?

    • Anonymous

      Which attitudes and values do you mean?

  • Anonymous

    It won’t be a trend until Oprah moves.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I don’t hear anything at all about how maybe the North failed those who migrated from the South in the 20th century, before Jim Crow let up. The North developed its own ways of discrimination, and maybe the migration is as much a measure of the North’s failure to create a place in the sun for many of these people, as much as it is a measure of the pull of an ancestral home (and some specific opportunities).

    • Anonymous

      Failed? Just what was the North obliged to do?

      • Ellen Dibble

        Don’t know, but plenty of inherited white guilt in certain churches is trying to organize to “do” whatever that might be.

        • Anonymous

          White guilt? I’ve never been able to feel that, having never owned a slave.

          • ThresherK

            There’s more to white privilege than being a slave-owner, or descendant of same.

          • Anonymous

            Ah, white privilege. Funny how I’ve never experienced that. I understand the privilege that money gives, but these days, most people are more concerned with how much coin of the realm I can offer them.

          • ThresherK

            White privilege: I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it to you.

          • Anonymous

            And I’m glad that you can’t. I’m not responsible for things that happened before I was born. The concept of white privilege is just an attempt by do-gooders to create guilt where none exists.

          • Grady Lee Howard

            Whiteness and maleness are advantages in access to opportunity that are not always exercised, but are always available, to a White male person. I’ll bet you never realized you were surrounded by air and that you breathe the 16% oxygen from it until your science teacher told you. People can’t see the cultural attributes of their identity because they are completely accustomed to them. Living under corporate capitalism and managed democracy you might first assume this is the best system possible until you become aware of better possibilities. Living way out in the country has its drawbacks.

          • twenty-niner

            So how do you explain the success Asians or Jews have in this country, groups that also had to face discrimination and bigotry in the past?

          • Chris

            Statistically, a college-educated white person applying to a job has a 50% greater chance of being called in compared to a black person when they use the same resume. For blue-collar workers, applicants are about equal (just a small benefit for whites) if the white applicant has just completed serving a 2 year felony charge, and the black applicant has a clean record.

          • Anonymous

            You just used a word that always raises my suspicions: statistically. Who gathered the data? What were the methods?

            I’m not denying that there are racists in the world, but the pressures of making money tend to outweigh other considerations.

          • lucy

            I suggest “White Like Me” by Tim Wise to you. He explores all of the myriad ways in which white people benefit from white privilege, many (most? even all?) of which they are unaware. It’s something that most of us take for granted as white Americans without ever questioning it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/tone.rose.9 Tone Rose

            just like fish don’t know he live’s in water. that is until you take it out of water.. you can’t experience white privledge until it is taking from you.. don’t worry it will be soon

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

             It will be soon?  If that’s meant to be threatening, I’m not amused, nor am I worried.

          • Ellen Dibble

            Much of northern prosperity was also based on the slave trade. See
            “triangle trade” in any textbook. The little run-about boats that dogged
            the British during the Revolutionary War morphed into a shipping industry
            that traded one leg of that, at least. Rum from molasses. Lawyers to
            defend the merchants. The shipbuilders of Providence and Nantucket. The
            northern mills that took cotton from the South and turned it into clothing.
            I’m not an historian, but many fortunes were made that supported many
            parts of the expanding financial stability and progress outside of the
            plantation areas, and it is a bit of a mystery how our ancestors managed to
            organize around abolition probably knowing full well that abolition would
            upend their economy. I don’t think anyone knew exactly how the economy
            would reconfigure itself if slavery were outlawed. Well, the railroads were
            going out towards California, which may have been Lincoln’s Hail Mary pass
            into the future. Maybe the Wild West will redeem us. Nowadays, if we
            cancel out the Big Oil economy, will a sustainable economy reconfigure
            itself? It’s a similar limb we could crawl out onto, and there are large
            profits at stake, once again, as well as a national way of life that may
            have to alter. The “slaves,” however, in this era may be overseas, in
            guises we don’t have legal responsibility for.

          • Anonymous

            Actually, slavery is a poor basis for an economy. It’s an inefficient system, one that retards development and growth. America would have been much better off had slavery never existed here. I don’t see how that legacy is a privilege.

          • Alan Shulman, NH

            Not sure what you are saying. Slavery came to our shores in 1609 and I guess you could say that it officially left with the passing of the post-civil war constitutional amendments though, de facto, it continued in other forms with other names. So what was it that kept slave owners so entrenched in this inefficient system and so resistant to changing it if not its economic advantages?

          • Anonymous

            Slavery is a type of feudal economy. Look at how Europe developed in the Renaissance by throwing off that system. The American South was the same. Our economy has improved greatly since the Civil Rights movement.

          • twenty-niner

            The argument is that the industrial revolution made slavery obsolete. If slavery hadn’t existed, industrial agriculture would’ve happened sooner; necessity being the mother of invention. The corollary is true now as robots are starting to displace hand pickers on citrus farms. Without a steady stream of ultra-cheap labor, these innovations would come to fruition faster. The same principle applies to the taxing oil and gas, which would hasten the development of sustainable alternatives.

          • Grady Lee Howard

            Have you ever employed an illegal alien? Have you ever bought goods produced in sweatshop conditions? Have you ever viewed pornography? There are many degrees and forms of slavery, and just as many means of oppression.

          • Giaworld3000

            I’m confused as to how pornography is slavery.

        • twenty-niner

          White guilt? More liberal garbage.

          I’ll give you directions to my old neighborhood in Chicago, which will cure any whitey of his guilt by night’s end.

    • William

      Actually, the AA failed.

  • NB

    Perhaps it’s something as simple as more space and warmer climate.

  • Michelle

    Neither of today’s shows are on itunes for podcast listeners. Thanks

  • GIAWORLD3000

    i moved back to the south in 2010 and after the worst year of my life both professionally and personally i am moving back up north on saturday. i think that the biggest mistake being made is the mental separation that seems to permeate all people. we need to realize that we are all the same race and the focus should be on that alone not the different colors that make up humanity. how could we grow as a people if we are separated by something as simple as race? its 2011 the only color that REALLY matters is green its unfortunately the haves and the have nots and both of those groups come in all colors. i personally feel that the article is pointless and yet another example of puppetry in motion.

  • Brett

    I’m from the South. I remember how Jim Crow laws lingered. I still hear a lot of derogatory conversations from Whites about Blacks. I still see a lot of distrust from Blacks toward Whites. It’s better than, say, it was in 1965, but not where I’d like it to be.

    I remember working in a gas station when I was in high school in the early 1970′s in Southern Virginia…lots of attitudes that I thought we had transcended were pervasive. Less so now, but still there.

    Poverty has played a role, and there’s plenty of ignorance and bigotry to go around…

    I remember (from my gas station days) asking a Black man traveling (it was common for Black people to travel at night rather than during the day). 1) Why he liked to travel at night? and 2) (he was from South Carolina) Why he liked living in the South? He said, 1) He felt less conspicuous at night and 2) He liked having discrimination more out in the open rather than behind his back…

    I haven’t heard the show yet…I wonder if economic factors, in addition to returning to family are reasons factoring in to this migration?

    • Ellen Dibble

      Hi, Brett. People calling in were telling about jobs and housing opportunities, and climate. I bought Wilkerson’s book yesterday, which is great, about the migration north, but I think the census data need to be expounded by her in a sequel book once those who had migrated north have to some extent resettled south. Will President’s Johnson’s forecast that his Civil Rights legislation would lose the South (to the Republicans) be reversed once the former natives go home?
      One caller spoke of a mixed-race group who met to discuss (as I recall) racial issues, and only new settlers joined the group; in particular, African Americans who had never left did not participate. In retrospect, this doesn’t surprise me. “Natives” would have a take-it-or-leave-it approach. New people would maybe not.

  • Toni Roman

    Dear Mr. Ashbrook,

    You are always positive and I salute you.

    But while we are linking arms and singing Kumbaya, it should be noted that Florida’s disenfranchisement of Blacks allowed the Electoral College to give us the worst president in history (Dubya Bush). The Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP among others also documented the throwing away of Black votes in other Southern states in the 2000 election.

    Outside places like Atlanta, there is no New South or New New South, only Old South complete with klan and White Citizens Councils (Tea Party). Oprah found this out when she took her show to a small Southern town and they used the N-word in her presence.

    To leave on a somewhat positive note, I believe that because NPR does such professional journalism is precisely why Republicans want to cut NPR’s funding.

    Toni Roman

    • William

      I think the SPLC is a bit too radical to be trusted and the NAACP is not worth a hoot these days. When Al Gore tried to steal the election the gov. via the court system stopped him in his tracks.

  • Laura

    I moved to a northern Atlanta suburb about 4 years ago. For the first time in my life I have met people who think racist and intolerant comments are acceptable (I am in my 50s). It seems better in the city of Atlanta but I certainly regret moving to northern Atlanta. Perhaps the election of Obama kicked it up a notch but I am glad I didn’t raise my children here. Very depressing.

    • Michael

      Hi Laura, I moved to Roanoke Rapids, NC a year ago from Texas and before that NY and I agree “depressing.” Now I live 7 mi away in Weldon which is a little bit better, conducting an ethnographic study of the Northeastern Corridor. People here appear to be harboring some type of inherent fear or distrust of Northerners.
      Michal

  • Jadunnigandc

    I have one comment and it is in reference to David Wall Rice, He did not do his own history because he said he was born in the north. He was not he was born in Washington, DC which is south of the Mason Dixon line. So in fact his own migration began in the south, moved west and back south. Unfortunately when David Wall Rice made this statement his credibility was greatly affected in my eyes.

    • http://www.dynamicstasis.com/orchestration/Home.html David Wall Rice

      Friend, I invite you to listen to the program once again. I note (@15:02) that I was south initially (alluding to my hometown of Washington, DC) and that I most recently moved from NY to Atlanta. I later discussed (@22:10) that I was born in DC, grew up primarily in Texas and did my education in the NE Corridor (Washington, DC – Boston). I hope this note adds a bit of clarity to your concern.

      • Jadunnigandc

        Thank you

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