Black Politics: A New Power

Black Politics: A New Power

Political Sociology of Racism

For the first half-century after slavery was abolished in the United States, the Negro lived mainly in the rural South and, save for a brief 10-15 years of Reconstruction, he had no rights of political participation. During this same period, the major white nonProtestant ethnic groups were crowding into the cities of the East, North, and Midwest, and by the end of the 19th century they had laid the basis for mastering the politics of the emerging urban society. But the Negro did not enter urban society in significant numbers until World War I, and so for nearly 40 years, roughly from the early 1880s to 1915, the typical black had neither political rights (stripped from him by the white racist rule in the post-Reconstruction South) nor access to the social system of urban America.

The cities were becoming the center of sociopolitical influence, and the Negro’s belated migration from the South to the cities of the East, North, and Midwest meant that his institutional capability for handling modem urban life was much weaker than that of the white ethnic urban groups which had preceded him by 40 years. In fact, their lead in settling in the cities amounted to more than 40 years; for although black migration from the South began in earnest around 1910-15, in the succeeding 50 years more than half of the Negro population remained in the South. (See Table I.)