The only sampling of how motivated Blacks were to vote in Southwest Georgia was my meeting with a young Black woman after the Democratic Convention. I knew she was of voting age and I knew she would probably vote for Obama, so I asked her, “You’re going to vote, aren’t you?” With an enthusiasm I was not prepared for, she said, “Of course! He needs four more!” I was already on the emotional high that the convention had given Democrats. The young woman’s affirmation left me reassured that Blacks who could vote here in Southwest Georgia probably would. I was not a scientific study but I felt reassured. The actual number of votes for President Obama in Southwest Georgia was astonishing and a precursor to a red state on the way to turning blue.
At first glance, there is nothing blue about Georgia. When I moved to Southwest Georgia, I had to face it, and face it early. Southwest Georgia was the deep South. For the first time in my life, I was landlocked and for the past eight years, I have looked upon the East coast, especially New York, with yearning and envy. The Village cafés, the grand anonymity, the subway hustle and the 42nd Street bustle was way beyond my reach, possibly forever. I replaced the Big Apple with the modest isolated horse farm I yearned for all my life. Along with this “dream come true” was my new community, a county of small southern towns, lightly populated Georgia cities and a heavy drawl that took time to understand.
What happened in my county and those surrounding me, through early voting and election day turnout, was not so much of a surprise as it was a new found pride in my new home. This swath of Georgia pecan groves and cotton fields voted for Barack Obama and voted for him big. Of course the ever present white Georgia racists did not. Here, most whites are staunch Republicans, Fox News junkies and drink the Rush Limbaugh Kool-Aid daily. Obama won Southwest Georgia counties for the same reason that I decided to move here: many of these towns have large Black populations.
The large Black population was a deciding factor for me moving to an area where I knew no one and had been warned of its racial history. The warning added a caveat, that “perhaps things had changed.” So I took a chance. I soon realized that the warning was not without merit, if somewhat exaggerated. Covert racism had been replaced by the silent kind that flared into an unwelcomed reality but only if you spent enough time talking to some older whites , particularly older white men, that live here. Seemingly, the large Black population keeps the overt kind of racism at bay. We have a Black sheriff in my county and this past election, a 22 year old Black male defeated our Black mayor of 21 years. In addition, racial profiling is kind of hard here because if a trooper profiles only Black drivers, well, he’ll be pulling over half the population.
Blacks voting for the presidential election of 2012 in Southwestern region of Georgia resulted in satisfying wins for Barack Obama. Though not the traditional 14 Southwest Georgia (SOWEGA) counties, the counties included in my count are all geographically situated in the southwest corner of Georgia. SOWEGA, the name commonly used by people in the region for Southwest Georgia consists of only fourteen of these counties. Geographically I have included the 20 most southwest counties in Georgia, from the northern most counties of Stewart, Webster and Sumter to the southernmost counties of Seminole, Decatur and Thomas. Of these 20 counties, 9 went for Obama on November 6, 2012. In addition, Muscogee and Talbot counties to the north and Macon and Dooley counties to the west also went for the President.
Southwest Georgia counties that went for Obama in 2012:
Because of the remoteness of where I live, I rarely have the opportunity to feel the pulse of my new community. So when I realized that Barack Obama won in this small corner of Georgia I felt reassured that perhaps there was more to my neighbors than I ever imagined. By comparison, the President won more counties in Southwest Georgia than in the counties surrounding Atlanta or any other part of Georgia. Several counties in central Georgia also went for the President. It is encouraging and reaffirms that soon, in the not too distant future, Georgia will be a swing state and eventually blue. My little corner of the state is leading the way.
Georgia 2012 Election Results: http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/2012/results/georgia
Census data: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/