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Field of Vision - The Black Belt
Field of Vision - The Black Belt
Published: 2016/04/26
Channel: Field of Vision
Why African-Americans left the south in droves — and what
Why African-Americans left the south in droves — and what's bringing them back
Published: 2017/03/01
Channel: Vox
The Southern Black Belt Region For Hunting, Fishing & Shooting
The Southern Black Belt Region For Hunting, Fishing & Shooting
Published: 2014/04/03
Channel: Sam Hall
Races and Cultures in the Deep South of the United States: Educational Film
Races and Cultures in the Deep South of the United States: Educational Film
Published: 2013/03/16
Channel: The Film Archives
"Black flight" in America
"Black flight" in America's rust belt
Published: 2012/07/09
Channel: Al Jazeera English
Black Belt Folk Roots Festival
Black Belt Folk Roots Festival
Published: 2010/12/24
Channel: Mic Stowe
RUREX: Exploring Outside Alabama
RUREX: Exploring Outside Alabama's Black Belt Region
Published: 2017/01/02
Channel: Exploring Alabama
US
US 'Rust Belt' region fighting poverty and crime
Published: 2013/12/04
Channel: Al Jazeera English
Rural Alabama plagued by sewage problems, hookworm
Rural Alabama plagued by sewage problems, hookworm
Published: 2017/10/12
Channel: News Direct
Black Belt Trials
Black Belt Trials
Published: 2011/10/27
Channel: ljblanch001
National Scenic Byways Black Belt Video
National Scenic Byways Black Belt Video
Published: 2014/07/15
Channel: studio96productions
ISKF Southwest Regional Tournament Men
ISKF Southwest Regional Tournament Men's Black Belt Kumite (07)
Published: 2011/06/05
Channel: L.R.
Why the Rust Belt Keeps Shrinking
Why the Rust Belt Keeps Shrinking
Published: 2017/07/14
Channel: Grant Hurst
ISKF Southwest Regional Tournament Men
ISKF Southwest Regional Tournament Men's Black Belt Kumite (11)
Published: 2011/06/05
Channel: L.R.
Hwa Rang World Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation Black Belt Testing
Hwa Rang World Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation Black Belt Testing
Published: 2012/05/18
Channel: Brian Seligman
A journey across the Rust Belt
A journey across the Rust Belt
Published: 2016/04/25
Channel: CNN
The Black Belt: A Cultural Survey of the Heart of Alabama presented by Valerie Burnes.
The Black Belt: A Cultural Survey of the Heart of Alabama presented by Valerie Burnes.
Published: 2016/12/01
Channel: Alabama Department of Archives & History
ISKF Southwest Regional Tournament Men
ISKF Southwest Regional Tournament Men's Black Belt Kumite (05)
Published: 2011/06/05
Channel: L.R.
ISKF Southwest Regional Tournament Men
ISKF Southwest Regional Tournament Men's Black Belt Kumite (10)
Published: 2011/06/05
Channel: L.R.
2012 Mens Black Belt Kumite C01 Mid-America Region I.S.K.F.
2012 Mens Black Belt Kumite C01 Mid-America Region I.S.K.F.
Published: 2012/07/04
Channel: Michael Parkhurst
Blackbelt Boys from Alabama
Blackbelt Boys from Alabama
Published: 2009/01/12
Channel: Deersmith1
Region 21 - Black Belt Camp - Team sparring - Lee Sandt
Region 21 - Black Belt Camp - Team sparring - Lee Sandt
Published: 2009/07/20
Channel: Andre Lee
Black Belt Kumite
Black Belt Kumite
Published: 2015/05/17
Channel: OcalaKarateDojo
NASA | Satellite Shows High Productivity From U.S. Corn Belt
NASA | Satellite Shows High Productivity From U.S. Corn Belt
Published: 2014/04/01
Channel: NASA Goddard
Region 6 Spring Dan Testing - Black Belt Linedrills pt 2 - May 16, 2015 New Braunfels, TX
Region 6 Spring Dan Testing - Black Belt Linedrills pt 2 - May 16, 2015 New Braunfels, TX
Published: 2015/10/11
Channel: WHAK- Texas Tang Soo Do
Old Burnsville Black Belt Tract
Old Burnsville Black Belt Tract
Published: 2017/03/20
Channel: National Land Realty
2015 ISKF US Nationals - Men
2015 ISKF US Nationals - Men's Team Kumite Final
Published: 2015/11/29
Channel: Battydan
Simply Southern Show 110 - Black Belt Garden
Simply Southern Show 110 - Black Belt Garden
Published: 2015/03/10
Channel: Simply Southern
Mr. Zak Scott, 4th Degree Black Belt from Richmond, VA
Mr. Zak Scott, 4th Degree Black Belt from Richmond, VA
Published: 2012/04/23
Channel: Spicar's Martial Arts Taekwondo Karate
Alabama Hosts U.S. Championship for Pointing Dogs
Alabama Hosts U.S. Championship for Pointing Dogs
Published: 2012/12/11
Channel: OutdoorAlabama
Alabama Black Belt Adventures
Alabama Black Belt Adventures
Published: 2013/02/26
Channel: Luke Hall
Garaguso Karate & Brnich Karate Dan (Black Belt) Promotion Ceremony
Garaguso Karate & Brnich Karate Dan (Black Belt) Promotion Ceremony
Published: 2013/02/20
Channel: tepeh789
Hookworm infection: Parasite in rural Alabama linked to poverty, poor sanitation - TomoNews
Hookworm infection: Parasite in rural Alabama linked to poverty, poor sanitation - TomoNews
Published: 2017/09/16
Channel: TomoNews US
Jeong
Jeong's Black Belt Academy
Published: 2012/09/28
Channel: Daring 5000
Chip Cooper - viewing the Black Belt and Cuba
Chip Cooper - viewing the Black Belt and Cuba
Published: 2007/06/05
Channel: LuckieVideos
The Black Belt Community Foundation
The Black Belt Community Foundation
Published: 2016/02/16
Channel: DK Harris Public Relations
Region 6 Spring Dan Testing - Black Belt Linedrills - May 16, 2015 New Braunfels, TX
Region 6 Spring Dan Testing - Black Belt Linedrills - May 16, 2015 New Braunfels, TX
Published: 2015/10/11
Channel: WHAK- Texas Tang Soo Do
Anti Hillary Rust Belt Region
Anti Hillary Rust Belt Region
Published: 2016/11/10
Channel: Wochit News
Portia Takes on The Blackbelt Episode13
Portia Takes on The Blackbelt Episode13
Published: 2016/08/17
Channel: Portia Takes On The BlackBelt
Starworld Martial Arts Black Belt Pretest Aug 2013 Region 2
Starworld Martial Arts Black Belt Pretest Aug 2013 Region 2
Published: 2013/08/08
Channel: Starworld Martial Arts
GEAR UP Alabama
GEAR UP Alabama
Published: 2015/08/18
Channel: UAB Digital Media
UFAF Region 7 Black Belt Promotions - 2nd & 4th Degree: April 26th, 2014 (Part 1)
UFAF Region 7 Black Belt Promotions - 2nd & 4th Degree: April 26th, 2014 (Part 1)
Published: 2014/04/29
Channel: Rob Gallagher
Turner
Turner's ATA Blackbelt Academy Powell, OH
Published: 2014/06/18
Channel: Jay Turner
Willa Liou -- 2nd Dan black Belt Breaking Test (10-11-2013)
Willa Liou -- 2nd Dan black Belt Breaking Test (10-11-2013)
Published: 2013/10/13
Channel: David Liou
Bob Redfern Visits Great Southern Outdoors in Union Springs , AL
Bob Redfern Visits Great Southern Outdoors in Union Springs , AL
Published: 2011/08/05
Channel: Rex Pritchett
Region 21 BBC 2011 - Female Team Sparring
Region 21 BBC 2011 - Female Team Sparring
Published: 2011/07/31
Channel: Team NKA
North Phoenix Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt
North Phoenix Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt
Published: 2015/07/03
Channel: Horizons Martial Arts
Black Belt - Medley Opening+Boss
Black Belt - Medley Opening+Boss
Published: 2015/03/28
Channel: Cosmic Music
Great Southern Outdoors Wildlife Plantation Home Of The Alabama Black Belt
Great Southern Outdoors Wildlife Plantation Home Of The Alabama Black Belt
Published: 2011/09/16
Channel: Troy Williams
Limbang Soo Bahk Do Black Belt Shim Sa 20120629.mp4
Limbang Soo Bahk Do Black Belt Shim Sa 20120629.mp4
Published: 2012/07/06
Channel: hong lulu
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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The proportional geographic distribution of African Americans in the United States, 2000.
2000 Census population ancestry map, with African-American ancestry in purple.

The Black Belt is a region of the Southern United States. The term originally described the prairies and dark fertile soil of central Alabama and northeast Mississippi.[1] Because this area in the 19th century was historically developed for cotton plantations based on enslaved African-American labor, the term became associated with these conditions. It was generally applied to a much larger agricultural region in the Southern US characterized by a history of cotton plantation agriculture in the 19th century and a high percentage of African Americans outside metropolitan areas. The slaves were freed after the American Civil War, and many continued to work in agriculture afterward.

During the first half of the nineteenth century, as many as one million enslaved Africans were transported through sales in the domestic slave trade to the Deep South in a forced migration to work as laborers for the region's cotton plantations. After having lived enslaved for several generations in the area, many remained as rural workers, tenant farmers and sharecroppers after the Civil War and emancipation. Beginning in the early 20th century and up to 1970, a total of six million black people left the South in the Great Migration to find work in industrial cities, especially those in the North, Midwest and West Coast.

Because of relative isolation and lack of economic development, the rural communities in the Black Belt have historically faced acute poverty, rural exodus, inadequate education programs, low educational attainment, poor health care, urban decay, substandard housing, and high levels of crime and unemployment. Given the history of decades of racial segregation into the late 20th century, African-American residents have been disproportionately most affected, but these problems apply broadly to all ethnic groups in the rural Black Belt. The region and its boundaries have varying definitions, but it is generally considered a band through the center of the Deep South, although stretching from as far north as Delaware to as far west as East Texas.

Definitions[edit]

Many definitions and geographic delineations of the Black Belt have been made. One of the earliest and most frequently cited is that of educator Booker T. Washington, president of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He wrote in his 1901 autobiography, Up from Slavery, about the Black Belt:

The term was first used to designate a part of the country which was distinguished by the color of the soil. The part of the country possessing this thick, dark, and naturally rich soil was, of course, the part of the South where the slaves were most profitable, and consequently they were taken there in the largest numbers. Later and especially since the war, the term seems to be used wholly in a political sense—that is, to designate the counties where the black people outnumber the white.

Scholar W. E. B. Du Bois also wrote about the Black Belt in his 1903 book, The Souls of Black Folk, describing the culture of rural Georgia.

Prior to the large shift of the Second Great Migration (African American) from the 1940s to the 1960s, the sociologist Arthur Raper described the Black Belt of 1936 as some 200 plantation counties where blacks represented more than 50% of the population, lying "in a crescent from Virginia to Texas".[2] The University of Alabama also classifies "roughly 200 counties" as comprising the Black Belt.[3]

The US Census reported that in 2000, the United States had 96 counties with a black population percentage of more than 50%. 95 of these counties were located across the Coastal and Lowland South in a loose arc related to traditional areas of plantation agriculture, including the Mississippi Delta.[4]

The United States Department of Agriculture in 2000 proposed creating a federal regional commission, similar to the Appalachian Regional Commission, to address the social and economic problems of the Black Belt. It defined the region, called the Southern Black Belt, as a patchwork of 623 counties scattered throughout the South.[5][6]

Geology[edit]

The shape and location of the Black Belt is derived from its geology. During the Cretaceous period, about 145 to 66 million years ago, most of what are now the central plains and the southeast of the United States were covered by shallow seas. Tiny marine plankton grew in those seas, and their carbonate skeletons accumulated into massive chalk formations. That chalk eventually became a fertile soil highly suitable for growing crops. The Black Belt arc was the shoreline of one of those seas, where large amounts of chalk had collected in the shallow waters.[7]

History[edit]

Upland cotton acres harvested as percentage of each county's harvested cropland acreage, 2007 (Agricultural Atlas of the U.S.)
Percentage of slaves in each county of the slave states in 1860.
African Americans as percentage of local population, 2000.
African-American population density in the United States, 2000.

Black Belt is still used in the physiographic sense, to describe a crescent-shaped region about 300 miles (480 km) long and up to 25 miles (40 km) wide, extending from southwest Tennessee to east-central Mississippi and then east through Alabama to the border with Georgia. Before the 19th century, this region was a mosaic of prairies and oak-hickory woods.[8]

In the 1820s and 1830s, the region was identified as prime land for upland cotton plantations. Short-staple cotton did well here, and its profitable processing was made possible by invention of the cotton gin. It grew better in the upland regions than did the long-staple cotton of the Low Country. Ambitious migrant planters moved to the area in a land rush called Alabama Fever. Many brought slaves with them from the Upper South, or purchased them later in the domestic slave trade, resulting in the forced migration of an estimated one million workers to the Deep South.

The Black Belt region became one of the cores of an expanding cotton plantation system that spread through much of the American Deep South. Eventually, the term Black Belt was used to describe the larger area of the South with historic ties to slave plantation agriculture and the cash crops of cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco.

After the American Civil War and Emancipation, most freedmen continued to work on plantations, generally by a system of sharecropping. The poverty of the South and decline in agricultural prices after the war caused suffering for planters and workers both. Although this had been a richly productive region, the agricultural economy was depressed in the late 19th century; by the early 20th century, there was a general economic collapse of the region. Among its many causes were continued depressed cotton prices, over-reliance on agriculture, soil erosion and depletion, the boll weevil invasion and subsequent collapse of the cotton economy, and the socially repressive Jim Crow laws.

With the decline of agriculture in generating wealth, what had been one of the nation's wealthiest and most politically powerful regions became one of the poorest. But, after regaining power in the state legislatures and ending Reconstruction, at the end of the 19th century white Democrats in the former Confederate states completed disfranchising most blacks and many poor whites by passing new constitutions that provided for an array of discriminatory voter registration and electoral rules. They did not lose any seats in congressional apportionment, which was based on total state populations, despite their disfranchisement of many of their citizens. This allowed the Democrats to accumulate seniority in Congress, where they acquired important committee chairmanships and exercised outsized political power for decades.

The South became a one-party region, and whites controlled all Congressional representation allocated for the full population, although in many areas, the majority of residents could not vote. Whites exercised political power outsize to their numbers, as Democrats continued to have a one-party system through disfranchisement of blacks through much of the 20th century. They controlled a disproportionate number of seats in Congress, gaining seniority and thereby control of important committees. In the South and elsewhere, many states suffered malapportionment of state and congressional representatives, as rural areas had retained political control when state legislatures refused to redistrict long after demographic and economic shifts increasing population in urban areas.

Lynchings were frequent in this region as whites used violence to impose white supremacy. Rates of lynching were high at times of economic stress and, annually, when it was time to settle accounts for sharecropping. The southern states passed Jim Crow laws establishing racial segregation in public facilities.

During the first half of the twentieth century, up until 1970, a total of 6.5 million African Americans left the South in the Great Migration, which took place in two waves. They migrated to northern and midwestern industrial cities for jobs and other opportunities. The second wave of the migration began shortly before World War II and lasted to 1970, as thousands of blacks migrated to the West Coast for jobs related to the growing defense industries.

Because of Jim Crow laws and disfranchisement, African-American residents of the old Black Belt became supporters of the mid-20th-century Civil Rights Movement, seeking exercise of their constitutional rights as citizens.

Current status[edit]

Black residents have achieved many political and social gains since the late 20th century as a result of the civil rights movement, including the ability to vote. But, due to the marginal rural economies, the Black Belt remains one of the nation's poorest and most distressed areas. Most of the area continues to be rural, with a diverse agricultural economy, including peanut and soybean production on large industrial farms. These are highly mechanized, requiring few workers.

There have been many changes in the social, economic, and cultural developments in the South since the late 20th century. Some blacks have considered the Black Belt as a kind of "national territory" for African Americans within the United States. In the 1970s, some activists proposed self-determination in the area, up to and including the right to independence.[9] The New Great Migration of educated blacks returning to the Black Belt is not evenly distributed throughout the South; primary destinations are those states with cities having the most job opportunities, especially Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas.[citation needed] Other southern states, including Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, and Arkansas, have seen little net growth in the African-American population from return migration.[citation needed]

Self-determination in the Black Belt[edit]

See also[edit]

Migration waves:

Separatism:

Other:

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Black Belt". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  2. ^ Arthur Raper, "The Black Belt", Southern Spaces, 2004
  3. ^ "Black Belt Fact Book". University of Alabama. Archived from the original on 3 November 2007. 
  4. ^ "The Black Population", Census 2000 Brief
  5. ^ "The Southern Black Belt". 
  6. ^ "Federal Funds for the Black Belt" (PDF). Economic Research Service. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "How Presidential Elections Are Impacted by a 100 Million Year-Old Coastline", Deep Sea News, June 2012
  8. ^ "Habitat: Black Belt Prairie". Mississippi State University. Archived from the original on 22 December 2007. 
  9. ^ Haywood, Harry (1977). For a Revolutionary Position on the Negro Question. Chicago: Liberator Press.

Further reading[edit]

  • Du Bois, W. E. Burghardt. Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 (1935).
  • Haywood, Harry. Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist. Chicago: Liberator Press, 1978.
  • Klehr, Harvey and William Tompson, "Self-determination in the Black Belt: Origins of a Communist Policy," Labor History, vol. 30, no. 3 (1989), pp. 354-366.
  • Washington, Booker T. Up From Slavery: An Autobiography. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., 1901.
*Wimberley, Ronald C. and Libby V. Morris. The Southern Black Belt: A National Perspective. Lexington: TVA Rural Studies and The University of Kentucky, 1997.

External links[edit]

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