Alabama Black Belt Politics: Promise and Peril, 1890-1935



This thesis examines African Americans in Alabama’s Black Belt—the majority constituent in the region—and their centrality in Republican and Communist Party voter campaigns. The Black Belt, originally named for the geological conditions of the soil, was home to a large enslaved population in the nineteenth century. As African Americans became the largest settled community across the belt’s counties, they were seen as useful constituents, first by Alabama politicians in the early twentieth century, and then, by the Communist Party in the 1930s. Both hoped to mobilize African American voters to bolster support for their own parties. These instances reflect a consistent trend of disregarding Black Belt residents as independent political actors. This thesis shows that despite earlier failures by the Republican Party to politically incorporate African Americans, the Communist Party would later create a mutually beneficial relationship. African Americans worked within the party to advocate for their own needs. This self-advocacy by African Americans is often overlooked in regional histories of the area. 

Keywords: Alabama, Black Belt, Communist Party

How to Cite: Hill, T. (2024) “Alabama Black Belt Politics: Promise and Peril, 1890-1935”, Iowa Historical Review. 10(1). doi: