The Current State of Race Relations in Fulton County, Georgia: A Comprehensive Overview

The fate of the city of South Fulton, Georgia, is inextricably linked to two distinct perspectives on black political power. From the earliest days of its development, transportation, race relations, and the “spirit of Atlanta” have all played a role in shaping the city's identity. Innovations in transportation and its connections to Atlanta have helped to establish South Fulton as a major center for commerce and finance. Issues related to race and race relations, which date back to the years before the Civil War (1861-6), have had a profound impact on the city's design and political structure, municipal services, educational institutions, and its reputation as both a segregated southern city and a “black mecca”.

The spirit of Atlanta, which is comprised of civic drive, vision, business interests, and priorities, has provided the city with a constantly changing set of objectives and definitions of what it is and what it can become. In this century, people from the predominantly white and wealthy parts of Fulton County have begun to move politically rather than physically. After financial struggles, Milton County was incorporated into Fulton County in 1932 during the Great Depression. There is now a renewed push to move some suburbs out of Fulton County, which is the most populated county in Georgia and home to most of the city of Atlanta, and place them under the now-extinct Milton County. The area that would be divided is more than 75 percent white, while a large part of the remaining part of Fulton County is 90 percent minority. During a public hearing on this issue, one commentator cited crime next to his house as a reason for moving from exurban Fayette County when South Fulton became a city.

Buckhead, an affluent Atlanta neighborhood known for its clubs, restaurants and mansions, would remain in Fulton County. In the end, during the decade of “municipalization” of Fulton County, South Fulton made the right decision at the wrong time. State Representative Jones argued that with more than 1 million residents, Fulton County is simply too large to be considered a local government. During the session, when asked to identify the amount that Fulton County needs to cut from its budget, citizens of South Fulton were found to be on average and relative to the state and nation slightly wealthier and better educated than residents of metropolitan areas of Atlanta and Fulton County. Corey Critell grew up in south Fulton County in what he calls “a very successful upper-middle class family”. He came to realize that his parents' success was not shared by his town.

He believes that with more autonomy for South Fulton comes greater opportunity for success for its citizens.

Mike Escovar
Mike Escovar

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