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Reverse Migration: Charles Blow Advocates For Black People To Return To The South In New Documentary


Charles Blow "South to Black Power"

The Great Migration, spanning from 1916 to 1970, saw millions of Black Americans leave the rural South for northern and western urban cities, seeking better economic opportunities and escaping the harsh realities of Jim Crow laws. This massive move reshaped the cultural and social makeup of America, ultimately, contributing to the rise of Black culture, communities and activism in those regions. It also had a major impact on the birth of the Civil Rights Movement.


But, is it now time for Black Americans to return to the South?


Charles Blow, a NY Times bestselling author, columnist and renowned commentator, implores Black individuals to head back to the South and hop on the reverse migration trend. In his new documentary, South to Black Power, he explores this migration where Black people are choosing to move back to the American South, challenging stereotypes and reshaping narratives.


In our interview with the Louisiana-born writer, he shares that this migration isn't new and has been happening since the '70s. "The first migration has probably been happening since the Great Migration ended in 1970. And this is Black people deciding to move out of the North and western cities that they migrated to during the Great Migration and moving back to cities and states in the South," Blow shares.


South to Black Power delves into the economic, cultural, and political factors driving the demographic shift and the potential implications for Black communities moving back to Southern states.


While there is a segment of the Black population who are thriving in northern and western cities, it's still a small percentage. High living costs in major northern and western cities, coupled with the allure of property ownership and wanting to live in majority Black cities, have many reconsidering the South as an attractive option.


"When you look at some of the lists about where the Black middle class is doing best in the country, a lot of the top of that list is full of southern cities. Part of the reason that people are able to get into the middle class and accrue wealth, and to transfer that wealth is by the ownership of property. That's becoming increasingly difficult in a lot of our major cities in the north and west because the prices of properties going through the roof," Blow explains.



He also shares that there is another great migration happening and that is urbanization. "Many young college-educated white kids are reversing the decisions that their parents and grandparents made to move out to the suburbs and they are moving back into cities. That gentrification increases prices and sometimes increases surveillance and police pressure on communities. In New York City, you see this a lot," Blow shares.


But what about the laws and politicians in the South? Is it truly safe for Black people to live in the South where politicians want to suppress their votes and erase the history of America? Blow believes the South has promise as long as Black people are heavily integrated into state politics. "I think fixing the country is having more Black power. I don't see a way for Black people to fix the country for Black people without Black people having more Black power. And I believe that state power is incredibly important in that conversation. There's a reason that this is called the United States of America because states have half the power," Blow shares.


The Devil You Know author argues that having political influence at the state level can lead to more responsive governance and policies that benefit Black communities. He points to the example of Georgia, where Black voters played a crucial role in the election, resulting in increased attention from political leaders. "Think about all the states that get money from the federal government in forms of block grants for all sorts of things. Hundreds of millions of dollars. Think about what happens if Black people have more of a say in how a state doles out those contracts. How they teach children, how they take care of the health care of the people in those states, how they build infrastructure. It's a whole game-changer," Blow shares.


We now know that reverse migration is already in the works, Blow is just giving it an adrenaline boost. "In fact, in the last census, it was hard to find a major northern western city that did not lose Black population. Some of those people moved out to the suburbs, but many of them moved back to the American South," he explains.


Check out the full interview below.



South to Black Power is now streaming on Max.

1 commentaire


Lori Wingler
Lori Wingler
28 nov. 2023

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