Saturday, November 22, 2008

Going forward in Forsyth

A few days ago, I published an entry comparing voting patterns for the recent presidential election in Georgia and Illinois. As something of a postscript, here's a point I thought about putting in that essay but decided it should stand alone for emphasis.

If you're old enough, do you remember this bit of ugliness from twenty-one years ago?:

"In 1987 racial tensions again erupted in Forsyth County. In January a small march in Cumming to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday met with resistance from local members of the Ku Klux Klan, who threw stones and glass bottles at the demonstrators. The event received national attention, and on January 24, 20,000 marchers from around the country converged on Forsyth County. Led by numerous civil rights leaders, including Hosea Williams, the marchers encountered 1,000 to 2,000 counterdemonstrators, but the presence of large numbers of police and National Guard troops most likely kept the event from turning violent. The event was one of the largest civil rights demonstrations since the 1960s and generated so much national attention that talk-show host Oprah Winfrey taped a show the following month in Cumming about the event."

According to a 2006 estimate by the Census Bureau, the population of Forsyth County, Georgia, now is about 2.7% black; that translates to over four thousand African-Americans. This is still an absurdly low percentage for a large Georgia county, but it's a huge increase since Oprah showed up.

Well not surprisingly, John McCain won Forsyth County pretty handily. But not THAT handily. Dave Leip's atlas shows that Barack Obama got over twenty percent of the vote; 15,406 people in Forsyth voted for him.

You could, if you choose, argue that one in five people in Forsyth County voting for Obama is a more striking indicator of how far America has come than Obama simply winning the election.

1 comment:

Rude and Very Ginger said...

I was linked over here from a comment on Hot Air. As I perused some of your entries, I saw this. I actually spent most of my childhood between North Fulton and Forsyth counties; I remember this period all too well...and it was at the front of my mind throughout the election.

Watching Cumming grow has been an interesting study. Many of the residents, as I remember them, were farmers and blue collar workers; my own grandfather worked the lines at the GM Doraville plant. That demographic is changing as Fulton County and Atlanta spill further north, and you find it becoming another suburb. I would imagine that, as the resident education and income profile changes, so do the politics. I think it will remain largely conservative but, judging from the changes I saw last trip home, there's more change to come.