Talk:Black Belt (U.S. region)

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Washington quote[edit]

Booker T. Washington couldn't have described the Black Belt region in 1965; he had been dead for 50 years. I don't know the correct attribution (year or other speaker), but perhaps someone else does. -

  • Corrected. Thanks for the tip. Dystopos 05:45, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Needs a map[edit]

I have never heard of this area before. This article is in desperate need of a map Asteron ノレツァ 23:51, September 6, 2005 (UTC)

Especially when compared with other "belt" regions. Data on which counties might be useful, too. JD 07:35, September 9, 2005 (UTC
Map illustrating the Black Belt Nation, from Harry Haywood's Negro Liberation (1948)

To the right is a map of the area from the Harry Haywood article.

Humbabba 05:44, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

citation needed[edit]

the statements about african americans being disadvantaged needs a citation. it appears to me, to be largely conjecture. Taste the Umami 19:05, 29 March 2006 (UTC)


there should be disscussion, or at least, a link to the discussion around if the black belt was a 'nation' by black nationalists, communists, etc.

yes, Harry Haywood

I think that it should be noted that Kentucky except for the area east of Lexington (the appalachains) should be considered apart of the black belt. I can almost guarantee that it you excluded that area of Kentucky east of Lexington that Kentucky is at least 15% black. The appalachains has never been a black area this also applies for Eastern Tennessee and Western Virginia (2 states that are considered black belt) Kentucky unlike states outside of the black belt has a sizable rural African American population (in the central and western areas). IF you notice Ohio (a northern state) has a larger percentage of African Ameicans, However if you pay attention to the maps on this article the only areas where you can find a large number of African Americans are only in the large city's. Again this is just based on what I observed from the maps posted on the article. I atleast think that Kentucky having some sort of tie to the black belt would give this article a bit more debt.


Just curious why Maryland, given Baltimore and Prince George's County, are not considered to be part of this region? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 00:33, 1 January 2007 (UTC).

It's not a term just referring to areas of the south where african-americans live. Toddst1 (talk) 15:32, 24 June 2013 (UTC)


I've decided to remove Kentucky as over 90 percent of its population is white with less than 8 percent African-American. There are a few small black enclaves here and there in Kentucky, but not enough to significantly make its presence felt as a black belt state. It is noticably north and west of the primary arc of the African-American population, and that many blacks migrated to northern cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Pfly (talkcontribs) 18:33, 7 April 2007 (UTC).

The above was not written by me, as the bot has it, but by anon, then dleted by anon I simply reverted the deletion. Pfly 18:35, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

I second that move, and have reverted the edit by 74, who has a history of questionable/personally motivated edits. Out of the former slave-holding states, the only one with a smaller percentage of blacks than Kentucky is West Virginia - neither of them are considered part of the Black Belt in modern scholarly and colloquial usage. --Gator87 08:24, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

Just for clarity, here are the exact black percentage of population numbers of all the former slave states, ranked from highest to lowest (these are the numbers from the 2000 Census):

Mississippi 36.66 Louisiana 32.94 South Carolina 30.01 Georgia 29.38 Maryland 29.02 Alabama 26.33 North Carolina 22.2 Virginia 20.54 Delaware 20.28 Tennessee 16.81 Arkansas 16.02 Texas 12.09 Missouri 11.76 Kentucky 7.76 West Virginia 3.49

Again, the numbers make it clear that Kentucky is not considered part of this region. In addition, the state never has been a cotton producer and virtually every single county in the entire eastern half of the state is in excess of 98% white. --Gator87 08:56, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

I agree that Kentucky is no longer a "true" black belt state. But I think it deserves an honary mention in this page. This is a state that once had a quarter of it's population represented by blacks. While in it's heyday it has never been as black as say North Carolina or most other Southern state's, But it certainly was blacker than just about every state north of the Mason Dixon Line. Kentucky was also one of the state's hit the hardest by the Great Migration to the North, which is why state's like Ohio, Indiana, and Illionois have since surpassed Kentucky in black population. Another thing is quite apparent in just about every map that details black population is the huge difference in the black population distribution between Southern states and Northern states (northern state's being those who gained during the great migration, which include Maryland, Deleware, and most definantly Missouri). For example compare the population distribution of Kentucky and Indiana. [1][2] This map clearly shows the difference. Now look at this population density map [3]. From this comparison it's quite clear that Indiana's/ or the North in general have blacks concentrated almost entirely in urban areas. In other words you will not find a rural county or a city less than 50,000 with a signifigant black pouplation in the North [4]. Where Kentucky's black population while it is highly urban is also quite commonly found in the rural central and Western areas of the state. Kentucky outside of the core black belt actually has rural counties that have blacks make up the largest ancestry. This is again unheard of in the North. Hopkinsville and Christian county being probably the best example of rural black Kentucky. Again if you can't see that their is a huge difference between Kentucky's black population and North, and it's similarity to the black belt you just don't want to see it. However something that really stands out as wrong to me about the grouping of this regions state is the inclusion of Maryland in the Blackbelt. This state had an overall gain during both Great Migrations, and until then has never been blacker than most of the South. Now Missouri is a a somewhat tricky state in this category, while it was a magnet during the Great Migration (especially due to St. Louis) it also had a reckongnizable black population in the Little Dixie Area, and most notably in the Bootlheel wedged in between Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee. However before the Great Migrations this population wasn't really signifigant. Just to note St.Louis holds over half of the states black population in it's metropolitan area. The little Egypt area of Southern Illinois (immediately boardering an ex-Slave state)is also notable for it's sizable black population, which came directly from the South.

Now Eastern Kentucky is Appalachia, as is Eastern Tennesee, Western Virginia, Western North Carolina, and Noreastern Georgia. This area of the South has only had a sizable black population for one period in it's history (not even during Slavery). However I will focus on Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Tennessee, which apparently lack in black population in this section (refer to maps), and They have a few clusters in the major cities of those regions. The rest of those regions again lack unlike rest of the regions in both states. Again the population trend between Kentucky and Tennessee are almost indentical, what seperates us from them and includes them in this subregion is Southwestern Tennesee, The Delta, one of the blackest regions in the nation. Memphis being the King pin of the region being the blackest Metro area (over a million) in the nation. This region of Tennesee borders the blackest state in nation Mississippi. Again this is the only notable difference between this Kentucky's 8 percent, and their 16 percent.

I remember earlier in a debate Gator you told me not to focus so-much on the raw numbers of Kentucky's black slave population and focus on the percent that was lower than some other Slave holding states, but higher than alot of other's. IT was most certainly higher than Northern states and Missouri. Now you won't even pay attention to the maps on the page because it's another trait that leans Kentucky more twards the South. 17:04, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Not to get keep on rant or anything but Kentucky's black were no less subjected to discrimnation as other Southern states, and in fact had more black lychings than Virginia and North Carolina. Lychings were almost unheard of North of the Mason Dixon Line [5] 17:22, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

"Honorary mention?" What is this, a science fair? I have never in my life seen a single map or credible source, other than your opinions, that includes Kentucky in the modern-day black belt region. It's silly, and we all know it - the state is less than 8% black. Oklahoma is heavier in blacks than Kentucky and thus would have more merit of being on this page than Kentucky. Why yes, 150 years ago Kentucky did have more blacks than the free states, but this is not a historical article. In modern day definitions such as the one at [6] , Kentucky is simply never, never included in this region. Note that not a single county in the entire state rises above the 24.9% barrier, while every other state in the region has several counties that do.

And even 150 years ago, as you pointed out, Kentucky was low in slaves, percentage-wise, compared to every other non-border state of the South. When most people think of the "black belt" concept, the first thing that would come to mind is the system of cotton plantations, which we both know was conspicuously absent from the border states (save a tiny, tiny area in the Missouri Bootheel.) --Gator87 18:47, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

You're just an ignoranct ass aren't you.[7]. While the state may be 8% black, it has a signifigant population clusters of rural blacks, that aren't found anywhere north of the Mason Dixon Line. This trend on the other hand is similar to that of the Black Belt Region. Please tell me why that isn't worth mentioning! Again this isn't putting the State of Kentucky within the region, But detailing undeniable similarities it has with the Black Belt Region. Again I'm not putting Kentucky within the core black belt region, but I'am putting that it has striking similarities to the region and has for most of it's history. You are right currently Kentucky isn't the blackest state and has never been, But for the half a century following the Civil War it was.

While this map does include Southern Kentucky it excludes Virginia and Texas [8].

Well actually a current trend in the Black Belt isdeclining black populations (due to their high poverty rate) and Christian County during the 1990 census was 25% black [9]. This study conducted by UKY precisely about the subject at hand (Kentucky's black poulation) also includes Kentucky in the Black Belt, But the site is down right now, I'll post it when it recovers [10] 20:20, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm well aware of what your agenda is by this point. We can mention Kentucky's relatively (and relative being the key word) significant black population in the article, but it is still clearly not a Black Belt state, and you are the only person so hell-bent on making Kentucky a twin of Tennessee or Arkansas as to insist otherwise. And furthermore, rural black population in the North isn't "non-existent, and this map proves it - [11]. But I would only expect this kind of utter, complete nonsense from the person who believes that Kentucky isn't a border state. Delaware isn't even mentioned on this page, and yet, percentage-wise, it is nearly three times more black than Kentucky. Absolutely ridiculous. You apparently want us to completely ignore the 90+ counties in the state with incredibly low black percentage numbers and pay complete attention to outlier, exception counties like Christian - of which there are only 3 or 4 in the whole state! Again, ridiculous. --Gator87 21:42, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Ridicolous, what's ridicuous is you ignoring the obviously difference in distribution between Kentucky and states and the North and the abundant similarities Kentucky has with the core black belt states. You brought a map detailing U.S. black population by county, and you attempt to prove my statement wrong, number I never said the North lacked a black population what they along with the West lack is a RURAL black population, that is found in the Deep South. On your map it shows that there are specks and trinkles here there of the counties with a black population above national average. But what you failed to do is check the counties that were highlighted, to see if there is an overall large population there. It's quite clear that the Deep South heavily black, But those highlighted counties aren't urban areas, not even a fourth of those counties are. Unlike the North!

For example Ohio Cincinnati Columbus Dayton Cleveland Toledo Akron

Illionois Peoria (over 100,000) Springfield (captiol) (over 100,000) and Chicago along with immediate sourrounding counties (as a result of such a large metropolis) The only rural county highlighted is the one on the Mason Dixon Line entangled in with the Mo, Bootheel, Kentucky purchase, and TN (highly black areas)

Indiana Indianapolis Gary

Kansas Topeka (capitol) (over 100,000)

This is the pattern you are ignoring, this is the pattern that Kentucky just does not follow! There are two extremely detailed maps on this page detailing the black population and your ignorance just happens to blind you. I will say that Kentucky is not core black belt state and that's just apparent, from the shear lack of bulk. But the population distribution patterns are irrefutable,a t least by a sensible person.

Delaware is a state that due to it's lack on a signifigant slave population is sometimes not even shown as a slave state on slave population maps. This is a state that gained black population during both Great Migrations, this is a state that has half of it's counties engulfed within the Philadelphia metropolis, and you're calling it Black Belt, RIDICULOUS. While you're calling out Kentucky's lack blacks you're calling about 3/4th's of Tennesee, which is only included in the Black Belt because of the Missississpi Delta, area and Memphis.

Reguardless you can insult my arguemtn all you want, But at the end end of the day you know I've brought up valid and irrefutable points for it. 22:52, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Your edits into the summary are agreeable, I only edited out the third map which is redundant when you have two much more detailed maps along side the Text. I think my my edits are agreeable and shouldn't cause to much of a fuss. 23:25, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Comments on the above section[edit]

The article describes the Black Belt as the region in which the black population is the majority, that is, over 50%. The Booker T. Washington quote says essentially the same thing ("counties where the black people outnumber the white"). It's obvious that a looser meaning is common, but the basic idea is population majority. Given this, most of the arguments given by User: are beside the point.

Also, some of the links posted by User: are misleading:

This encarta map link, [12], is just a regular reference map. The URL and page name indicate "Black Belt (Alabama)", which probably refers to Black Belt (region of Alabama), but it is unclear.

After calling Gator87 an "ignorant ass", User: posted this link, [13], to a map titled "4. Identifying the "black belt" of cash-crop production". The key says it shows "black belt counties", which is misleading without the rest of the map's context. The full article is here: [14] -- The map User: posted is the 4th step in a 6-step process, and in the text the term "black belt" is explicitly described as referring to rich soil. The 6th map would be more appropriate, [15], but even then it about 19th century agricultural practices and not racial population density.

Finally, in the repeated posts of the census 2000 map of black population percentage by county, [16], remember that it is only the two darker shades of blue that are over 50%. Pfly 05:01, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Forgive me if my comment offended you!

Yeah I actually came across that Booker T Washington comment as well, he does state that the Black Belt is a county in which blacks out number whites or any other races, around the time Booker T Washing had made that statement the vast majority of America's black population still remained in the South, and those stipulations were much more probable. For example Woodford county in Kentucky was majority black, while their are countless counties in the state that surpass the 40% marker. On the other Tennessee has 3 counties that surpassed the 50% marker (two being around the Memphis region), and again had countless counties surpassing the 40% marker. [17]. As for the current definition of 50% or over Tennessee has zero counties surpassing the mark, along with Texas (which is only 11% black) [18]. He also makes comment about the poverty issue in those black belt counties [19] 15:49, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

No problem! ..and it does seem odd to me to mention Texas and Tennessee, and even Florida, in the opening paragraph. But then I'd always heard of the black belt as being the dark soil region of Alabama and its associated issues of population and poverty, and its important role in the history of the deep south. Perhaps the always-problematic mentioning of specific states could be avoided by rewording to something like "..belt-like pattern across the South.." instead of "..across 12 states.." Also, the very first sentence is not quite clear to me: "..623 southern counties that contain a higher than average percentages of African American residents." What does "higher than average" mean, I wonder? Higher than the national average? What is the national average? The mention of 623 counties is quite specific, but it's not clear which counties these are, or where this definition comes from. If I find the time I'll see if I can dig up something about this. Pfly 20:10, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

I believe the current national black average is 12% (might be shrinking as a result of the larger hispanic and asian populations). But I totally agree with the black belt-like comment, and it makes for much less conflict. I'll try to help you out on that search too. 23:05, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

I just uploaded this map to the Commons, thinking it might be better than the one currently on this page, since it shows the national average and a lot more information. But I'm too tired to think about it more right now. The Census Bureau file The Black Population: Census 2000 Brief has a lot of stats, according to which the national average is 12.9%. Interestingly it gives figures by census region and states too. In the South, the average is 19.5%. It also points out that there are 96 counties with a Black population percentage over 50%, all but one (St Louis City, MO) being in the South census region. Of those, the report says they are "generally nonmetropolitan" and "distributed across the Coastal and Lowland South in a loose arc." In other sources, the term "Black Belt" seems to be used mainly for the soil-based area of Alabama and Mississippi, and secondarily for a vaguely defined social region associated historically with slavery and cotton plantations and so on. The 623 county figure seems to come from a book called "The Southern Black Belt". A few webpages that refer to the book: The Southern Black Belt, Turning the Course of Poverty in the Historic Black Belt South, Funding black belt school districts in Tennessee. Having skimmed those, it seems to me that the 623-county "Southern Black Belt" is essentially a political region being proposed for the creation of a federal commission along the lines of the Appalachian Regional Commission. Finally, a few other links of interest: This map of ancestry shows an interestingly similar pattern as the population maps. And this Black Belt essay looks useful. I was going to try to edit the page with some of this info, but I am out of energy, so am just posting the links here for now. Pfly 00:02, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

More on Kentucky[edit]

Interestingly, the map at [20] shows, clearly, that some non-urban counties in the "North" - notably, in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Upstate New York - have black ranges in the same percentages as most of the rural counties of Kentucky - namely, the green (5.0 - 12.8) range. Contrary to the profanity-laced rants of 74, this map shows, as I've stated on numerous occasions, that there are indeed a handful of non-urban "Northern" counties with "relatively" high black percentages - but this is all relative. On the other hand, I'm only counting three rural counties in Kentucky, from that map, that are in the "high" range (mid-tone blue) that is so common across most of the South - the other mid-blue counties in Kentucky are urbanized Jefferson and Fayette Counties. So Kentucky is mentioned in this article because of three rural counties...I find this highly, highly objectionable (not to mention blatantly inaccurate), but I will not attempt to remove the text on Kentucky because it makes it clear that 99.999% of sources do not include KY in this region, and that would be certain to start another edit-war with user 74, who has convinced himself that the state of Kentucky is a twin of Tennessee. As that map shows, Kentucky's black distribution is really not that different at all from the state of Illinois, which also has quite a few rural counties in the 5.0-12.8 range. And as somebody else said, the rural/urban distribution really is quite irrelevant here ultimately, because the entire "Black Belt" concept is based on defining the region of the country, defined by former cotton plantation economies, where blacks currently constitute a near-plurality, near-majority, or plurality/majority of the population. The "blackest" county in Kentucky, Christian County (which not surprisingly borders TN) is less than a quarter black. And even then, it is clearly an outlier, by far, in the state.
I do hope that I am not seeming rude/pushy here, but again, with a map like this I just find it ludicrous that some people could honestly believe that Kentucky (modern-day Kentucky, not the state some 160 years ago!) deserves any type of mention at all on this page in terms of being a Black Belt state. I mean, it's insane! Even marginally-Black Belt Tennessee, which user 74 so ardently loves to compare Kentucky to, is more than twice as black, proportionally, than Kentucky; the entire western 1/9th or so of the state of Tennessee is highly, highly black, rural counties included, something that is seen nowhere in Kentucky. If anything, there should be a debate about whether or not states like Texas and Tennessee belong in the region, which is another question entirely. But Kentucky, beyond doubt, does not. 7.76 percent black. But some people will continue to see (selectively) what they want to see, and evidence to the contrary be damned. Even going with the "extreme" examples, those of us with open eyes can see very clearly that Kentucky's black percentages are far, far closer percentage-wise to those in Kansas (6.41%) and Iowa (2.51%) than they are to those in Mississippi (36.66%) and Louisiana (32.94%).

--Gator87 00:19, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

For starters I apologize for my insult earlier

"Although Blacks were not as concentrated in Midwestern counties, in some metropolitan counties, such as around Chicago, Illinois; Gary, Indiana; and Detroit, Michigan, Blacks comprised a sizeable proportion of the population. In the Northeast, Blacks were concentrated in a band of counties extending from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Providence, Rhode Island and along the Hudson Valley northward from New York."



Gator well while you've managed to find another map that concentrates on the U.S. black population you have again failed to see that the areas that show a signifigant Black population have a sizable population (over 50,000)


Joliet (over 100,000)


East. St.Louis along with the other counties included in the St.Louis MSA (over 400,000 blacks that came during the Great migration)

Champaign/Urbana area(over 80,000)

Rockford (over 150,000)

Bloomington/Normal (over 100,000)

Rockisland/Moline (80,000)


Terre Haute (over 60,000)

Mucie (67,000)

Ft. Wayne

Andrson (over 55,000)

South Bend (over 100,000)

Howard (51,000)

Ohio for the most part I covered

except for


Parma (85,00)

The metropolitan area in between Cincinnati Dayton and Columus which the census bureau source has elaborated on

Cuyahoga Falls (50,000)


Mansfield (50,000)



Ann Arbor (114,000)

Flint (metro over 400,00)

Kalamazoo (77,000)


Lansing (metro pop over 400,000)

Wyoming (64,000)

Grand Rapids (over1,300,000)

Battle Creek (over 50,000)

Niles-Van Benton Harbor (over 100,000)

I found this search time consuming and could have been prevented if you had actually studied the maps of population density and the Black populations. Every single highlighted county in those state's you listed (with the exception of little Egypt) is apart of somesort of immediate metropolitan area, with an urban area of over 50,000.












Fulton (second blackest 24%)









which are all counties that are highlighted that are not within an immediate metropolitan area, and lack cities over (50,000,(30,000). Actually Bowling green up until mabe two years ago had a population of less than 50,000 and still would have been highlighted. I didn't mention Paducah (less than 30,000 and over a quater black) and McCracken (over 10% black) county either. obviously I didn't mention Louisville and Lexington, because of their shear size even though I could argue that Shelby county has always had a sizable black population (currently over 10% and was once 40% black). Hell I could even argue that every county surrounding Lexington, and the Historic Bluegrass region is Black Belt because it held the state's heaviest concentrationof slaves. One thing that Gator is trying to avoid in this argument is the direct connection this trend has towards slavery even if it was some 160 years ago. We all know Kentucky has never been the blackest, But it along with the core black belt has retained a great deal of it's rural black population. This is indeed a Black Belt similarity (as Pfly has stated). If it has no direct affiliation with direct Gator than please explain the grand example that is Little Dixie! Why is a region once heavily populated with slaves, still have a sizable black population, while the rest of the state doesn't.

LOL you implied that Christian county's high black population is because it borders Tennessee. Using that logic do you believe that the only reason Southwestern Tennessee is as heavily black as it is is because it borders the blackest state in the U.S. and is tied to the blackest region (the Delta) in the U.S? Again while I've stated that Kentucky lacks the shear bulk of the core black belt states, it doesn't lack the signifigant rural African American population that characterizes the region. That again is not found in the Midwest (unless you consider Missouri Midwestern, though it was a slave state). On the more detailed maps that apparently go by census tract rather than the entire county (and is still conducted by the Census Bureau), the population distribution between Kentucky and the Northern states has a starx difference (urban and rural). On the other hand while Kentucky lacks the shear bulk of the core black belt there is great similarity and that is reflected in the text and is supported by two heavily detailed maps.

You're not off though I do feel that Kentucky is more similar to Tennessee than any other state bordering it, especially in this comparison. Again while the Eastern areas/mountainous Appalachia regions of the state lack the blacks the central and Western areas of Kentucky and the Central areas of Tennessee (this along with the Eastern area is 3/4th's of the state) are signifigantly populated by blacks both rural and urban. While the extreme Southwestern area of Tennessee is HEAVILY populated by blacks. I find it funny that I'm the who is ignorant and narrow minded (according to Gator), he is the focusing this entire argument on modern day percentage and is ignoring the historical and regional signifigance behind the it's current state. While I will agree with you that percentage-wise Kentucky is not a Black Belt, the similarities of the distribution of urban and rural between Kentucky and the Black Belt states can only be ignored by fool and one who is Hell Bent on getting at least one point across in an entire debate. I have yet to see how a simple observation that you have not been able to deny is extreme , please elaborate. In that elaboration please do not insult me and say I only see Kentucky as 100% Southern or what not. If you wonder how I know a bit about urban areas of the U.S. I'am a member of skyscraper, Urbanplanet, and Skyscraperpage, they shove every urban area (over 50,000) of every inch of every state down our throats and from those maps and experience I took one look at that map and I said there is no urban areas in those parts of the state yet it's large black population is emphasized! Enough about me and back to the debate ding ding 03:33, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

I am supporting Pfly's latest edits, which remove any mention of Kentucky from this page. Enough is enough. Despite 74's rantings, not a single map or source has been produced showing KY as a Black Belt state. Anybody who can't look at this map - [23] - and quickly ascertain that KY lies above the historical Black Belt is not being honest with him or herself.
Furthermore, and again despite 74's rants, there are pockets of rural blacks in traditionally "Northern" states. I've been saying this for a long time and have provided proof. 74's arguments are full of contradictions, such as when he states that a "sizable" county means 50,000+. By KY standard's perhaps, but a county with 80,000 residents is usually rural. In that case, Christian County, KY, with a population greater than 70,000, is no longer a "rural county." I've never met a single person in Hopkinsville who would call the county "urban." A majority of Kentucky's rural counties are in the 0.5 - 4.9% black range, which is virtually unheard of in the true "Deep South" Black Belt states. Besides urbanized Fayette and Jefferson counties, only 3 counties in KY fall in the 12.9 - 24.9 range, and two of them border TN - Christian, Fulton, and Union ; not a single county in the entire state is higher than 24.9% black, though there is at least one county like this in every single other truly "Black Belt" state. A small handful of rural counties in KY do fall in the 5.0-12.8% black range, and 74 somehow believes that rural counties of this sort are "unheard of" north of the Ohio River. A quick glance at the map shows otherwise; clearly, the vast majority of Kentucky's rural counties are under 5 percent black. So in addition to all of the counties of the Missouri Bootheel and Little Dixie, here are more examples of rural "Northern" counties that are above 5 percent black:

1. Alexander County, IL - population 9,590 and 34.90% black (an extremely rural county in unquestionably Midwestern Illinois that is blacker than any single county in Kentucky)

2. Pulaski County, IL - population 7,348 and 31.00% black (again, extremely rural, north of the Ohio River, and blacker than any county in Kentucky)

3. Johnson County, IL - population 12,878 and 14.17% black

4. Jackson County, IL - population 59,612 and 13.02% black

5. Brown County, IL - population 6,950 and 18.20% black

6. Massac County, IL - population 15,348 and 6.1% black

7. Lake County, MI - population 12,069 and 11.6% black

8. Ionia County, MI - population 61,518 and 5.1% black

9. Luce County, MI - population 7,024 and 8.4% black (actually borders Canada, is rural, and yet blacker than most KY counties)

10. Baraga County, MI - population 8,746 and 6.2% black

11. Franklin County, NY - population 51,033 and 7.2% black

12. Greene County, NY - population 48,195 and 6.2% black

13. Union County, PA - population 43,131 and 7.7% black

14. Pawnee County, KS - population 7,233 and 5.3% black

15. Montgomery County, KS - population 34,570 and 6.2% black

In his eternal effort to equate KY to TN and ignore all evidence to the contrary, I'm sure that 74 will say that counties in Southern Illinois aren't really Midwestern. However, they were not slave counties, they lacked industry to pull blacks in during the Great Migration, and yet, they still have sizable rural black populations - and they're north of the Ohio River (in a Census-defined Midwestern state, as he would argue). As are the other counties on that list, in addition to numerous others. By 74's logic, as soon as you cross the Ohio River/Mason-Dixon Line you should stop seeing rural counties such as these. By looking at the map and from what I know personally, I've always believed that Kentucky is closest to Illinois and Missouri in terms of its rural black distribution - most rural counties are in the 0.0 - 4.9 range with a scattered handful in the 5.0-12.8 range, which is still below the national average. I'm sure that those intervals are used becaues of statistical significance.
Yes, I'm willing to concede that Fulton, Christian, and Union counties are not "normal" in Northern states. But we're talking about 3 counties here out of 120 in the state, 2 of which border Tennessee (and yes that matters, as bordering counties are obviously going to share some similarities.) It's quite obvious that we have totally different viewpoints on this state, but you have to acknowledge that trying to classify a state based on 2.5% of its counties, while ignoring the other 97+%, is absurd. Furthermore, as shown above, several rural counties in the Egypt region of Illinois have higher black percentages than any of those three counties. One rural county in Michigan, bordering Canada, is higher in blacks proportionally than most KY counties. And lastly, as we all known, even in the peak of slavery Kentucky had fewer slaves proportionally than any other non-border state of the South - and the state produced no cotton, whereas cotton plantations are a key characteristic of the Black Belt. Again, how somebody could look at this map - [24] - and truly believe that Kentucky is more like Mississippi than Illinois in terms of black population is, well, beyond my understanding. Like I said, some people will not see the truth, no matter how incredibly clear it is. This "discussion" should be over, and it never should have begun in the first place.

--Gator87 18:27, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Well Gator would you like to know a fun little fact about Southern Ilinois/Little Egypt that area of the state legalized slavery. This area of the state was also striving to get their Join the "Southern Confederacy" [25]. That is why I disreguard Southern Illionois's black population as a Midwestern trait, especially when it's stated on both Illinois, the Southern U.S., and Little Egypt that this region of Illionois is more closely aligned to the South than the Midwest.

Just to note I stated that towns of over 50,000 were signigant not counties.

Barage and Luce county Michigan along with Franklin and Greene NY, Union county,Pa county were apart of the underground railroad in it's early History. which did attract black to the area[26] [27] [28][29] [30]"Kansas was the first grass-roots movement out of the South. Blacks, in protest against the loss of political rights, sought equality and opportunity in the West." Lake county Michigan [31] 1915 " A group of investors had bought a large tract of land around one of the most beautiful lakes in the county. They subdivided it, set up a massive publicity campaign and solicited customers for the lots from from among the black residents of Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and most of the other large cities in the neighboring states. Within thirty years, Idlewild had grown into one of the most popular black resort areas in the United States. Gator again it's all in the maps [32] [33]

It has been stated by the census bureau that the Midwest African American are concentrated in the Metropolitan areas of the states or major cities. For christ sakes just look at the distribution differences between Indiana and Kentucky and this is apparent. Where Indiana's blacks are clusterd in major/signifigant cities Kentucky's blacks are heavily concentrated in the Central and Western areas of rural Kentucky, again not urban but rural. Then doesn't it say something when you have taken every example of what you though were examples of signifigant populations of rural Northern blacks and tried to size it up with the list in Kentucky's and it couldn't even top a Southern state's list. That is something to be said am I wrong! and please explain on THIS SITUATION if so.

[34]As far as me not providing a single map or information reguarding Kentucky's inclusion in the Black Belt, this is a repost of the UKY analysis of Kentucky's black population with countless demographic maps reguarding Kentucky's black population. The homepage actually makes the comparisons between Kentucky and the Black Belt states.

User 70/Gator if you would actually read what I have to say rather than attempt to generalize my entire argument as the predictable "he feels Kentucky is the twin of Mississippi" crap you might see where I'm coming from. Although it is kind of funny how you argued earlier how Kentucky are just so different in this category, yet after the comparison I made, the only thing you can do is move the next the state South to show a true diffference. You've claimed that I just don't want to see clear information, if you mean that I'm not as gullable as to believe that because Kentucky and California are around the same pertage in black population and instead that they (every Northern state) acquired their population through a vacum process that took away from Kentucky and other Southern states, then I must agree. If you mean that I that I'm being ridiculous because because I see that Kentucky's black population is much more rural than any state North of the Mason Dixon (through two extremely detailed population distribution maps), and shares that trait with the core black belt states than I must agree. However you have yet to disprove my claims or Hell even deny, instead you make me out to be a conflict starter/trouble maker ECT. Your rants then follow by I think Kentucky is the twin of Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Northern Florida, East Texas or any Deep Southern area in general. Or you'll just throw the 8% into the argument and expect there to be no analysis whatever,except that a this is currently more closely aligned to the Midwest than the South, Point blank, with complete disreguard to History (alot happening in this past century). Yet I'm ignorant just for pointing those similarities out.

[35] Just for clarity this is the area that is considered Little Egypt

"That, in such event, the interest of the citizens of Southern Illinois imperatively demands at their hands a division of the State. We hereby pledge ourselves to use all means in our power to effect the same, and attach ourselves to the Southern Confederacy."

Gator I'm noticing a major contradicition in your argument, you stated earlier. While you gladly stated that Kentucky was a slave state that lacked cotton plantation and thusly had a smaller black population than "most" of the South and as a direct effect the core Black Belt is the heavily black region that it is today, while Kentucky is not as black (as was stated in your earlier edits of the article). You refuse to acknowledge however that Kentucky still did have a large slave population, and as a result the rural areas of the state particularly in the Central and Western areas signifigantly populated by blacks. Again all you're trying to do to keep your argument afloat that Kentucky has absolutely nothing to do with the black belt in any way shape or form, you're avoiding the direct source of the sub-region....Slavery. I'm still waiting for your explanation on the area known as Little Dixie it is still signifigantly populated by blacks or even why the Bootheel is as black as it is. There are no major cities in those regions and never have really been, However those were the two mecca's of Missouri slavery. BTW AGAIN Christian county was over a quarter black during the 1990's, does that make us a core black belt state, no, But no one is arguing this. While I'am in favor of the current edit by Pfly, I was only sugguesting that we make a note that Kentucky a former slave state (slavery is emphasized in the article as "the" major factor in this regions past) has similarities to the black belt region. You just had to fly off the handle and hoot and hollar that Kentucky ain't no Black Belt, and has absolutely no similarities between the current region, Who cares if it was heavily black during slavery, and just ignorant crap like this that you're posting that's just ridiculous. Louisvillian 03:25, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I do not believe Kentucky (nor West Virginia, nor Missouri, and perhaps not even Tennessee and Texas) deserves any mention at all in this article. You have not provided me, or anyone else, with reasons to believe otherwise.
There is a clear reason why I have ALWAYS said that Kentucky is very similar to Illinois and Missouri in terms of its black distribution. Regarding Little Egypt, there were indeed a tiny, tiny number of slaves in these counties. However, the practice was largely defunct by the outbreak of the Civil War, and Little Egypt had the highest Union recruitment rates in the entire state of Illinois during the Civil War. But of course, you want to completely ignore this region even though, according to what you have clearly said on this page, it should not exist - Illinois is Midwestern, and yet there are still pockets of rural blacks there. Again, I'll be the first to say that these counties are very much "out of place" in Illinois, just like the Bootheel is out of place in Missouri and, by the same token, I would say that Christian, Union, and Fulton counties are very much out of place in Kentucky rural areas in terms of their black percentages. 3 counties, again, in a state with 120 counties. I am looking at the map, and I see that the majority of KY's rural counties, in all regions of the state, are in the 0.0-4.9% black range - a good 85% of the state's rural counties. A small number of rural counties (I'm counting a dozen or so) rise into the 5.0-12.8 range, the same range as the counties of Little Dixie and the rural counties in IL, MI, PA, NY, etc. that I pointed out. Just a few days ago you were saying that there were "no rural Northern counties" with significant black populations. When I provide a more than a dozen examples showing otherwise, you say "well, that's only because of the Underground Railroad!" Well, duh - if there were no slaves in nearly all of those counties 160 years ago, where in the living hell did the blacks come from? I'm going to quote you word for word from what you said a few days ago: "In other words you will not find a rural county or a city less than 50,000 with a signifigant black pouplation in the North." I just proved otherwise and so, of course, you change your argument to say that, in fact, there were no slave rural counties in Free States. This is ridiculous. What in the world are you trying to prove/show? I've provided a list of rural Northern counties with large black percentages, something you just said "I will not find" a few days ago. We all know that KY was a slave state. We all know that it had higher concentrations of blacks than states like Minnesota 160 years ago and still does today. We all know that, even among the Border States, it historically had a higher percentage of slaves. None of this merits it being mentioned on this page. If there is a reason why I'm being persistent on this, it's because I'm not content with spreading false information to the public.
It's common sense that slavery had lots to do with the presence of blacks in Kentucky...uhmm, duh. This does not make it a Black Belt state, or anything remotely close to it. Again, I would even go as far as to argue that Tennessee and Texas do not fit the true mold of this region, as a majority of their rural counties also lack significant black populations. But arguing that Kentucky has some "honorable mention" in the region, though, is beyond absurd to me. If "any rural blacks and former slave areas" is the definition we're going by then, well, every single former slave state belongs in the Black Belt, and perhaps Illinois as well! In the modern-day, Kentucky and Illinois are very similar; both have predominantly urban black populations with a few rural enclaves of blacks. As does Missouri. A large majority of rural counties across all three of these states are in the 0.0-4.9% range for blacks, a percentage range that is largely unseen in rural counties of the truly Black Belt states. I choose to acknowledge this, but you can continue to ignore it if you so please. As long as Kentucky is not mentioned on this page, there is still some sanity to Wikipedia practices and truth in its articles.
And as a last note, what does the University of Kentucky (which I would assume has some intellectual authority regarding the state its located in) have to say about this matter? UK maintains a Rural Studies Center and actually produced a book entitled "The Southern Black Belt: A National Condition." To quote word-for-word from UK's site: "Today, the Southern Black Belt remains a social and demographic crescent of counties containing higher than average percentages of black residents. The region stretches through parts of Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas." Which state is missing from that list? The University of Kentucky itself, in a book dedicated to study of the rural Black Belt, does not even mention Kentucky as being linked in any way to the region. The link is right here - [36]. Insane, like I said. You are so quick to seize on black distribution differences between Kentucky and Minnesota, which indeed are there, and yet you cannot bring yourself to acknowledge that the black distribution differences between Kentucky and Mississippi are far, far more significant than the black distribution differences between Kentucky and Illinois.

--Gator87 08:01, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

[] DBBRA (Delta Black Belt regional authority) includes Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, North and South Carolina along with Missouri as black belt.

[37] However, the crop possibilities are sharply conditioned by spring and autumn frosts. The growing season of most crops is included between the latest frosts in spring and the earliest in autumn. This is especially true of the principal slave crops, tobacco, rice, sugar and cotton. Figs. 6 and 7 show a rough division of the South into two frost provinces. Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky have a growing and harvesting season of about seven months, while the rest of the South has a considerably longer season.

[38] Here is a map that specifically has on it's legend Black Black counties. The Bluegrass region was highlighted in that region, along with Christian couty, so can you tell why this isn't signifigant? or are you going to just continue to insist that Kentucky has absolutly no relationship and or similarities between this region.


"it extended through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, W Tennessee, E Arkansas, Louisiana, E Texas, and S Oklahoma, and also into small areas of SE Missouri, SW Kentucky, N Florida, and SE Virginia."

See G. C. Fite, Cotton Fields No More: Southern Agriculture, 1865–1980 (1984); A. Burton, The Rise and Fall of King Cotton (1985).

Mississippi Department of Archives and History 1'2'/'2'9/99 "The Slave Trade Between Kentucky and the Cotton Kingdom", T.D. Clark, The Mississippi Valley Historical Review Vol. '2'1 No. '3' (December, 194'3')

[40] on like the fourth slide there is a map that details the poverty rate rate among rural African American blacks, and Southwestern Kentucky is clearly highlighted.

Okay so let me get this straight you're claiming that Texas and Tennessee are not black belt states (obviously not an Appalachian state like West Virginia)! So as an attempt to disreguard and signifigant culturall connection that Kentucky's African American population has with the Black Belt you are making a stricter definition, that Kentucky's distribution patterns resemble. While 3/4's of Tennessee and Central and Western Kentucky lack the the bulk that the core Black Belt has they still have the "signifigant" rural African American population that strongly resembles that core black belt, IS THIS NOT TRUE. The Nashville Basin area was the central area of Tennessee that was heavily populated by slaves, the surrounding counties have remained heavily populated by blacks before and after the Nashville Metropolitan area began to shape [41] (1950's black population density map). This is also the case for the metropolitan area that has nearly a million less residents than Nashville...Lexington and the Bluegrass region. We both know that this was Kentucky's region that was most heavily populated by slaves and contained Kentucky's only county that met Booker T Washington's strict definition of the black belt with over 50% of it's population being black. The area of Kentucky between Lexington and Frankfort is still populated signifigantly by blacks. Don't you find it strange that a metropolitan area of only around 400,000, can elevate the influence of the African american population of every single county surrounding it, while a metropolitan area of just over 2,000,000 (Cincinnati, or the Missouri side of St.Louis) can only affects a county immediately surrounding it?

I noticed one contradiction in your argument that needs to be addressed! While you claim that Kentucky should have absolutely no mention in this article because it lacks the raw buck of the core Deep South and is more in tune with the Midwest in general, yet How you can recongnize the few rural Midwestern counties (half of those being in a slave holding region of a Union state) who's black population is in the range of 5%-22% as signifigant, while you only use the rural Kentucky counties of Christian, Fulton, Christian which are in the range of over 12% to compare to the Black Belt states. Now while you've managed to compare Kentucky's three main rural counties to the black belt, what rural Northern county meets this percentage? NOT ONE. While you've managed to scrap together every Northern county that has a black population of over 5% you failed to see that this list doesn't even measure up to the rural Kentucky counties that met this percentage! Again you've just taken every county in which you consider a rural Northern counties with a signifigant black population and stacked them up to one state AND THAT ENTIRE REGION STILL CAN'T TOP THAT ONE STATE'S LIST!! Half of the counties you've given were from the Little Egypt region of Illionis in which I gave specific reference while I made the statement about the North. So to counter this argument about Little Egypt you claim that the region dismantled slavery 5 years before the South did, or at the start of the Civil War. I don't know if that was meant to be funny or what, but it was amusing. To downplay the signifigance slavery had on a region of a non slave state you say that at the outbreak of the war betweent he North and South this slave holding region of a Northern state was forced to give up it's slaves, which was followed five years later by the liberation of the South's slaves, yet this just isn't the same case.....OKAY!

"I just proved otherwise and so, of course, you change your argument to say that, in fact, there were no slave rural counties in Free States. This is ridiculous. What in the world are you trying to prove/show?"

It shows the historical migration difference for starters. The Black is also characterized by those states that lost black population during the Great Migration, which most definantly includes Kentucky. This is a topic that you seem to be ignoring. The culture created by this movement is the complete opposite of that which is found in the Black Belt, along with Kentucky. However you know I'll give credit where credits due you found examples of rural Northern counties that have siginifigant African American populations. Next thing for you to do is tie that with Kentucky, find how the Underground railroad destinations are tied to a former slave state other than crossing it's border. How does that show that this state has less Black Belt similarities.

"with a map like this I just find it ludicrous that some people could honestly believe that Kentucky (modern-day Kentucky, not the state some 160 years ago!) deserves any type of mention at all on this page in terms of being a Black Belt state. I mean, it's insane!" followed by

"It's common sense that slavery had lots to do with the presence of blacks in Kentucky...uhmm, duh."

LOL This just gets better and better with every post! The contradictions in your argument are staggering and are making this debate go in circles. So what makes the Black Belt Gator According to this site [] According to Falk and Rankin (1992),

“The Black Belt does constitute a region in which contiguous counties have similar histories, socioeconomic organization (dependent upon agriculture), and political realities (where, in many instances, black could not vote as recently as 20 years ago), and unusually large black populations. There is no other place in the United States that includes such a large geographic territory, with so many people of one race, with so much common history”. (300-302) [42]

From the link I provided earlier from UKY you can detail that Kentucky especially in the Southwestern and Southern areas has a large impoverished African American population. A trait that follows the Black Belt am I wrong? Every U.S. state has a mostly Urban African American population, so that's not much of an arguement there and shows your lack of research. Kentucky however also has more rural counties within the 5-12% percentage than Missouri and overall counties (Kentucky 32) Missouri (22). Keep in Mind that Missouri was also a slave state and Little Dixie is a prime example of this. Obviously Kentucky has more rural counties with a signifigant rural African American population then Illinois. On this Illinois argument I think you're more compelled to see that Illinois (one of the top ten most populated and urban states) has highlighted counties on this map [43] than you are to actually research what areas are urban and what aren't. With that comparison you will have to blind to see the difference [44]. Just a question Gator what am I ignoring, that Kentucky is only 8% black while states like Texas (11% black ) were included on this pages definiton. The map I just posted is the one that you're ignoring buddy, and it's quite apparent why! That along with the other one in this article are MUCH more detailed maps that go by CENSUS TRACTS, which are more specific than counties. Through these census tracts the difference is quite apprent not only between Minnesota and Kentucky, But between Indiana and Kentucky, Illinois and Kentucky, Ohio and Kentucky. I no doubt see the the shear lack of bulk that seperates Kentucky from core black belt states, But I with that bulk that is seen in those states I see that alot of it is concentrated in rural areas. I also see that Kentucky has signifigant black population found in rural areas of the state. Whereas in Indiana, Ohio, and 3/4th's of Illinois this is found nowhere. However you again show your own biasness by comparing Kentucky to Mississippi and then comparing it to a state that borders it. Why not compare make a comparison between Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois, Indiana, Ohio or whatever. If you really wanted to do it that way, then compare Kentucky to Minnesota or Wisconsin then compare it to Mississippi and Alabama. Louisvillian 03:16, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Comment on opening[edit]

Part of the opening paragraph reads, "it has long been used for a broad region in the American South characterized by a high population percentage of black people, acute poverty, rural decline, inadequate education programs, low educational attainment, poor health care, substandard housing, and high levels of crime and unemployment." I was wondering if this was comparing black people to acute poverty, rural decline, inadequate education programs, low educational attainment, poor health care, substandard housing, and high levels of crime and unemployment. Perhaps the sentences should read: "The Black Belt is a region of the United States. Although the term originally describes the prairies and dark soil of central Alabama and northeast Mississippi, it has long been used for a broad region in the American South characterized by a high population percentage of black people. The region has a disproportionate rate of acute poverty, rural decline, inadequate education programs, low educational attainment, poor health care, substandard housing, and high levels of crime and unemployment." Any comments? Jd027talk 16:48, 24 December 2008 (UTC)

Done (and then some). Fredwerner (talk) 18:55, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

decline of family farms[edit]

The article states that poverty in this area is due to "the decline of family farms" which is highly dubious. Most of this area has been poor since the the civil war. A reliable citation is needed to support the claim or it should be removed. Toddst1 (talk) 15:28, 24 June 2013 (UTC)


If you look at the picture, under other: Portuguese is spelled "portugese" which is a racial slang for Portuguese people. Please change this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:45, 22 February 2014 (UTC)