Mostly Black Cities, Mostly White City Halls

Richard Fausset, New York Times, September 28, 2014

Since moving to this small city on the eastern flank of Atlanta’s suburban sprawl, Lorna Francis, a hairdresser and a single mother, has found a handsome brick house to rent on a well-groomed cul-de-sac. She has found a good public school for her teenage daughter.

Something Ms. Francis, who is black, has not found is time to register and vote. She was unaware that the most recent mayoral election was held last November.


That kind of disengagement is one of the many reasons that only one of the six elected positions in this municipality of 15,000 is held by an African-American, even as a wave of new black residents has radiated out from nearby Atlanta, creating a black majority here for the first time in the city’s 160-year history.

Disparities between the percentage of black residents and the number of black elected officials are facts of life in scores of American cities, particularly in the South. The unrest that followed the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has emphasized how much local elections can matter, and prompted a push there for increased black voter participation.

The disparities result from many factors: voter apathy, especially in low-visibility local elections; the civic disconnect of a transient population; the low financial rewards and long hours demanded of local officeholders; and voting systems, including odd-year elections, that are often structured in a way that discourages broad interest in local races.

But Ferguson has become a vivid example of the way a history of political disengagement and underrepresentation can finally turn toxic.

“I have seen this time and again in my research,” Jessica L. Trounstine, a political scientist at the University of California, Merced, said in an email. “The event/situation seems sudden–but really the stage was set long before.”

Whites and blacks tend to agree that the situation is less volatile in Conyers, though many blacks cite frustrations over interactions with the police. But even here, differences in voting between the city and the county that surround it speak vividly to some of the broader issues.

The chief operating officer of Conyers, David Spann, a veteran city employee who is white, said that many of the city’s minority newcomers have, like Ms. Francis, found homes in a local rental market that has exploded in part because of the foreclosure crisis. The city’s homeownership rate is 38 percent, compared with a 66 percent rate for Georgia as a whole.

“When you have rental people, this is nothing against them, but they’re not as involved in the community,” Mr. Spann said.


According to the International City/County Management Association, among 340 American cities where more than 20 percent of the population is black, two had councils on which blacks were overrepresented compared with their population; 209 were within one seat of their population; and 129 underrepresented blacks by more than one seat.

In Conyers, not everyone considers the underrepresentation to be a problem. Cleveland Stroud, the sole black member of the City Council, argues that whites have remained in power in part because they have represented their changing constituency well.

“Does a councilperson have to be black to represent black voters?” Mr. Stroud asked.

A number of blacks here said that they were generally pleased with city government. {snip}


White leaders here do not claim that the city, in a region where a half-century ago blacks had to drink from separate water fountains, has solved all of its racial problems. But they say that they are in fact an integrated community, particularly after a decade in which the black share of the city population shot from 33 percent to 57 percent. During the same time, whites dropped from 58 percent to 30 percent.


Vince Evans, a 14-year Council veteran, said the city was full of black residents who would make great Council members. But few, he said, choose to run. “I don’t know why,” he said.

One theory is that many of the new black residents are working-class people who do not have the means or the time to run for office and serve on the Council. Members are paid $75 per month; white-collar professionals currently dominate.

Particularly among the poor, there is also a strain of fatalism. “This is the white man’s land,” said Vick Major, 22, who was on a run-down side street on a recent afternoon, with a pit bull straining on a nearby chain. “We stay out of everything.”


In some quarters, however, whites openly worried about the ability of blacks to run things. After the 2012 election, Jonny Brown, a county board of elections member appointed by the local Republican Party, posted an online editorial comparing county government to a “little white plane” that took on more black paint over time and eventually crashed.


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  • D.B. Cooper

    Great idea! Most of these whites sold their souls by kissing big black behind, now get them out of office so blacks can run their own people.

  • Shorter NYT: Ferguson not turning into East St. Louis fast enough.

  • DaveMed

    Actually, it’s probably in the NYT’s best interests for the situation to stay this way.

    When Blacks start being “proportionately” represented in politics and management, efficiency and quality take a nosedive. And lots of people notice.

  • LHathaway

    “even as a wave of new black residents has radiated out from nearby Atlanta, creating a black majority here for the first time in the city’s 160-year history”.

    It’s harder to vote when you’re not 18 yet.

    • bilderbuster

      And the Black failure of Atlanta’s radiance is glaring.

  • MekongDelta69

    Endless New York Slimes groveling…

    • 1stworlder

      Well leftists did make the argument that they are too stupid and lazy to get ID for voter ID

      • bilderbuster

        Thank goodness they somehow managed to sign up for section 8, welfare and EBT’s though.

    • propagandaoftruth

      It’s funny though.

      This entire article suggests that many blacks seem perfectly happy letting Whites run things, their communities are better off than blacks-in-charge silliness, yet…

      What’s the problem again libtards?

  • Fed Up

    Funny. But I can’t think of a better way to destroy a city from within — than with most of the city officials being Blacks. Look at Philadelphia — losing businesses, unable to attract new business. Ditto for all cities with a majority of Blacks “running” the city (generally into the ground).

  • Christorchaos

    “Does a councilperson have to be black to represent black voters?”

    The old viceroy system was just way ahead of its time.

  • 1stworlder

    What I want to know is if these white councils with black majority residents ban Felons Voting. It could be like San Antonio where the majority of residents are Hispanic but the majority of citizens is white.

    • I can’t tell you about other states, but in mine, voter registration is uniform statewide. Which means cities can’t make the franchise more loose or more strict than state law. And our state law on felons voting is out of prison and off papers and you can vote again.

      • 1stworlder

        The reason there are often no blacks on juries in 90%+ black Detroit is that they don’t let criminals on them.

        • Ngati Pakeha

          There not known for opening their mail either just quietly, ergo, further eroding those likely to serve on juries. They just don’t have a sense of social justice and doing their bit for the collective community. Yet they demand positions as of right – not by going through a demanding application process. I’ve volunteered at various food banks over the years and whilst in the US I never saw ONE black person frequent the place as a helper. It was all one way traffic; “wats yous gots for me”? They also bemoaned the fact we didn’t stock soda and potato chips.

  • italian guy

    Even though they are like 13% of the population, they demand representation in the government in a majority White country (just think about Obama and Holder) , but they are pissed that they are not “represented enough” when a White minority dominate politics in a black majority city… bunch of hypocrites.

  • JohnEngelman

    Democracy requires the tendency of most voters to vote for people who are more intelligent than they are.

    • TheCogitator

      For most people that will not be hard to do. For some of us, it will be impossible.

  • Dave West

    The more black city council members there are in a city that is largely black, the more dysfunctional and corrupt that cry becomes.

    I predict that in the next few years the Justice Department will launch yet another useless probe into “voter suppression” in Ferguson and find next to nothing. Liberals and black activists will convince blacks that they are being ruled over the white supremacist, “slave masters” in the city hall; there will be huge drives to encourage black people to vote. When election time comes around the mostly white city council members will be running against black activists from Ferguson. The city hall will go from mostly white to mostly black and will be touted as a great “social justice” victory by the libtard media. As dysfunction sets in many in remaining white population will move out in the next 5 years, making Ferguson 90% black. Ferguson will morph into a crime ridden and dysfunctional black ghetto like East St. Louis in the next 10 years, but it will still be considered a victory since all the “racist whites” are no longer calling the shots.

    • bilderbuster

      Five years? Any White person still in Ferguson this time next year is a fool or is a home owner (usually elderly) who has everything invested in their house and has everything to lose if they sell their house at a fire sale price.

      • Fair Dinkum

        Well, I would remind those elderly homeowners of the old Chinese Proverb: “A wise traveler knows when to abandon his luggage.”

  • TruthBeTold

    The unspoken claim here is that if blacks represented themselves, incidents like Ferguson wouldn’t happen.

    Am I reading this right?

    • bilderbuster

      You mean you didn’t know? (sarc)

  • CallahanAuto

    All black politicians … that’ll fix everything!

  • Rhialto

    The New York Times said Wednesday it plans to cut 100 newsroom jobs in the latest move by the prestigious daily to adapt to industry upheaval.

    Blacks aren’t complaining; the Liberal rank and file aren’t complaining; Feminists aren’t complaining. Only the noisy and desperate NYT is moaning about an imaginary problem.

  • QueFah

    Separate water fountains are just fine with me but I prefer separate countries… Liberia is waiting…

    • benvad

      You read my mind.

  • John Smith

    If things have to function, you still need white people.

  • Paleoconn

    Blacks are free to move out of White-run districts and into black-run ones like, you know Detroit and Haiti and Africa.

    • LHathaway

      Detroit, Haiti, Africa and America.

  • Lion’s Mane

    “Does a councilperson have to be black to represent black voters?”

    YES. And a politician has to be white to represent white voters. Separate NOW!

  • bubo

    In some quarters, however, whites openly worried about the ability of blacks to run things.

    Now why would anyone think that? What terrible racists they must be. I know when I think of successful cities I think of smiling black people just like those commercials on the tee vee.

    • Melvin Bonzarelli

      Detroit, Newark, Camden, Trenton, Haiti and Africa are run by blacks and they’re doing just great.

  • Lagerstrom

    What’s a ‘councilperson?’

  • Alexandra1973

    If we’re equal and race is just a social construct, why would it even make a difference?

  • benvad

    They don’t run because they can’t make any coin off of it. They’d be required to work without any remuneration, two things that are Kryptonite to blacks “Work & no money”.

  • Melvin Bonzarelli

    ‘Single black mother, teen-age daughter’, renting nice house in nice neighborhood = neighborhood is turning, white owners can’t sell, single black mothers can’t afford mortgage, so white owners have to rent to them to at least cover property taxes. Neighborhood will be burned out slum in ten years. Maybe five, when the males smell that mom and daughter are in heat and start hanging around.

  • Luca

    Blacks have always needed White overseers and benefactors.

  • Augustus3709

    “White leaders here do not claim that the city, in a region where a half-century ago blacks had to drink from separate water fountains…”

    Just stop there. Who invented water fountains? Who invented plumping? Who invented water filtration? Whites have zero obligation to share or give anything away to anybody. White people are not the work-horse slaves for the rest of the world. It is not a RIGHT to take White things. White people have nothing to be ashamed of.

  • hijack28

    I think that last comment was very offensive. I think there are many valid points that were all too politely made stated in the article. I would think that first and foremost the residence would want someone who is component and gets the job done for them. I think you have to bring more to the table other than vote for me because I’m black, see. And just because a person is not black, doesn’t mean he is against blacks either. The main think is competency and performance should be the things that count. I don’t think a skin color determines that. But in taking the kitty cloves off, the under representation could be, in addition to the valid points made, a reflection of many factors. The welfare culture for many of the poor, whether they be black, white, or whatever else, and its insidious culture of dependency that develops and gets entrenched. And then from there it is easy to see how many can become too busy just trying to make a living, become lazy, uninterested, and always wanting others to do the work for them. IMO, that’s why and how these thing happen.

    But what does it mean to say a community is under-represented? What if everyone who could vote did? And as a result, the same people who are in office now, still are be in office. Why? Because they were the best performers and got the job done!