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My name is Charles Blow. I’m an op-ed columnist at The New York Times. I write about politics, culture, and inequality. And I believe that if Black people simply returned to the South, they could significantly increase their own political power, which has the potential to not only upend the politics of that region, but also of the country as a whole.
There is no way to truly have power in the country if you do not also have access to state power. And there is right now no state in the country where Black people are a majority, and not one where they are projected to be a majority. And that powerlessness is something that I detest. [MUSIC ENDS]
At the end of the Civil War, three Southern states were majority Black. Another three were very close to being majority Black. And it had a tremendous impact on the politics of the region and of the country. But millions of Black people during the Great Migration migrate largely from the rural South to primarily cities in the North and West. [MUSIC PLAYING]
There were a lot of amazing things that came out of the Great Migration. But there were some negatives as well — the rise of racialized, chronic ghettos in urban areas, intense concentrated poverty, militarized policing. And over time, many Black people just became disenchanted with these cities. And now it continues to show up in demographic data that Black people are leaving Northern and Western cities for the South.
The case I make for reverse migration, because it’s already happening, is to apply to it or infuse it with a kind of political framing to give it a definition, to give it shape, because right now, it is without that. It’s devoid of that. The Great Migration had it. There were champions of the Great Migration. Black newspapers in the North actively recruited Black people to move North. There is no parallel phenomenon now. And I am hoping to fill that void.
- speaker 1
The New York Times op-ed columnist and author Charles Blow has penned a new book. It’s a roadmap for overturning white supremacy, he says.
A few years ago, I wrote a book called “The Devil You Know, A Black Power Manifesto.”
- speaker 1
He has moved to Atlanta, Georgia, after living in New York for 25 years. And he’s now proposing that other Black Americans up North do the same to boost their — [MUSIC PLAYING]
The biggest impact, I believe, of reverse migration happened in Georgia. In 2020, it swung for a Democrat for the first time in decades, and it elected two Democratic senators. The last time that a Democrat had won the state of Georgia was Bill Clinton in 1992.
But the Black population since 1990 doubled in the state of Georgia. It went from 1.7 million Black people to 3.4 million Black people. That meant that their percentages of the electorate went up to about a third. That had a huge impact on that election. And it allowed Black people to be the leading portion of the coalition that swung that state for a Democrat, Joe Biden.
- speaker 2
And then Joe Biden would not be here. He would not have been the Democratic nominee without strong, deep, and wide support from Black voters all across this country. The same very hands that once picked cotton now pick presidents and for the first time in American history, put a Black woman on the ticket as the Vice President-elect of these United States.
That is what to me real power looks like. You can have an impact on the presidency. You can have an impact in the Senate. And you can have an impact on all of the power that states wield, everything from writing the criminal code to education to health care.
People freak out when I say that I believe that some states should be majority Black. But I always ask them this question. Why are you not freaking out that every state but Hawaii is at least a plurality white and that there are seven or eight states where 90-plus percent of the population is majority white? [MUSIC PLAYING]
Why does that not cause you any agita?
And you cannot make the case that is simply the way the country grew, that that is the result of natural migration and settlement, because it is not. Black people were forbidden from settling in some parts of the country, frozen out of state power. The only way they have access to it is if it is granted. I believe that has to change.