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Black Power in DixieA Political History of African Americans in Atlanta$
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Alton Hornsby Jr.

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032825

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032825.001.0001

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The Growth of Political Influence, 1961–1970

The Growth of Political Influence, 1961–1970

(p.105) 5 The Growth of Political Influence, 1961–1970
Black Power in Dixie

Alton Hornsby

University Press of Florida

This chapter discusses the growth and the intensification of political influence by African American voters on the politics, the public sphere, and the social constructs of Atlanta. In the fall of 1961, following the peaceful desegregation of public schools, the people of Atlanta for the first time since 1937 had the opportunity to vote for a new mayor. Once again, the blacks and their invincible coalition with the upper-white income group elected someone as mayor of Atlanta who had stood as a moderate on racial matters. The victory of Allen illustrated that the power of the black vote was increasing and growing due to the steady increase of registration among blacks and upper-income whites. The registration of lower-white income groups however decreased as a result of apathy and white flight. Recognizing the political influence of the newly politically and socially potent blacks, the black-elected mayor called for desegregation in many aspects of social and city life in Atlanta. Desegregations were imposed in Atlantan restaurants, schools and employment, and in housing programs. Despite being met with criticism and resistance from the pursuers of white supremacy, the blacks did not falter in pushing for racial equality. Through Austin T. Walden, Leroy Johnson, and several other black leaders, Atlanta blacks reiterated their place in the Atlanta community in the forthcoming local elections by electing one of their own in the highest local seat of Atlanta. Their election of a black within the highest ranks of the governmental seats afforded them new confidence and political influence. The election of Maynard H. Jackson Jr. signalled a new era in the city in which a black policymaker would have a large if not a decisive voice in the affairs of local government.

Keywords:   political influence, African American voters, politics, desegregation, Maynard H. Jackson Jr., black policymaker

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