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Keneshia N. Grant, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Howard University, at the beginning of her new book, The Great Migration and the Democratic...

Keneshia N. Grant, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Howard University, at the beginning of her new book, The Great Migration and the Democratic Party: Black Voters and the Realignment of American Politics in the 20th Century (Temple University Press, 2020), poses a question to consider in context of trying to understand the realignment of voters within American political parties. This question is about the impact of the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to northern cities, and how this changed the political dynamics in many of the places where African Americans settled and built new lives. Grant’s examination focuses specifically on the impact in terms of politics, how and where African American individuals engaged in politics, as voters, and in running for and being elected to office. The Great Migration and the Democratic Party concentrates on three cities where the population changed and shifted given the influx of black citizens; and the political dynamics in Detroit, Chicago, and in New York City all came to reflect, in different ways, the influx of new voters and politically active citizens. The Great Migration and the Democratic Party focuses on the local, state, and national Democratic Party, since these voters were not only politically engaged at the local level, they were also able to contribute to voting blocs within states, at times making the difference in terms of the Electoral College and presidential candidacies.

The Great Migration and the Democratic Party traces the changes in the political parties over the course of the 20th century, exploring the shifts of voters across parties, with specific attention to Black voters’ movement from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. Grant examines this shift in context of the movement of voters from one part of the United States to other parts of the United States, but also through the lens of how white Democratic elected officials in northern cities approached and engaged Black voters, and how both black and white citizens in these large urban centers participated in politics. Ultimately, Grant positions the Great Migration as a key dimension of some of the shifts and changes that have occurred in the parties over the past century. In tracing the political impact of the great migration, Grant also concludes her work with some analysis of the re-migration of African Americans back to the South, and how active citizens and voters may once again change the dynamics in American politics.


Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).