The Civil Rights revolution has been an inspiration to oppressed minorities around the world and is now an essential component of both national and regional civic culture. But was it also a revolution in economic life? Contrary to many pessimistic accounts, economic gains for black southerners were real and substantial, sufficient to reverse a fifty-year pattern of black outmigration from the South. With few exceptions, economic historian Gavin Wright contended in November 7th’s Washington History Seminar, southern whites did not lose economically from desegregation; instead they also gained.
Gavin Wright is William Robertson Coe Professor of American Economic History at Stanford University. He received his PhD in economics from Yale University and is a past president of the Economic History Association. His books include:The Political Economy of the Cotton South (1978); Old South, New South (1986); and Slavery and American Economic Development (2006).
A webcast of Wright’s seminar is available at Economic Effects of the Civil Rights Revolution.
A joint venture of the National History Center and the Woodrow Wilson Center, with assistance from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Washington History Seminar takes place on Monday afternoons at 4 p.m. at the Wilson Center. Graduate students are especially welcome.