Politics and Economic Development in the Southern Black Belt

Joe A. Sumners and Amelia H. Stehouwer

in The Oxford Handbook of Southern Politics

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195381948
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Politics and Economic Development in the Southern Black Belt


An expansive system of plantation-based slavery defined the Black Belt region of the antebellum South. The region's current politics, economy, and social structure trace their origins to that plantation in South that receded over the course of the twentieth century. Since the late 1800s scholars from a variety of academic disciplines have written about the Black Belt's rise, fall, and influence. Much of the recent research has examined the myriad serious challenges faced by residents of the region. It is a place of great mystery, not only in its unique political, economic, and social environment, but also in its very definition. While there is a broad consensus that the modern Black Belt is characterized by economic, social, and political poverty, there is little agreement on exactly where this poverty-stricken region is located.

Keywords: plantation-based slavery; Black Belt region; social structure; social environment; poverty; plantation economy

Article.  12250 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics

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