The South has changed in many ways over the past half century and my own family has been part of that change. My parents, brother, sister and I moved to Florida in the early 1970s, where I grew up and graduated from high school. Literally a week later I relocated to Texas where I went to college and lived for a decade. Eventually I came full circle and moved back to the Northeast, but I never left entirely. Until he died two years ago I regularly visited my father in Arkansas. He and I traveled throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and elsewhere during these visits. Despite being a proud New Yorker, I still consider myself a Southerner in many ways. My wife and I have many friends in the region and we often talk about moving back when we retire.
The demographic changes of which my family, and millions of others, were a part transformed the South from Heart of the Confederacy to Sunbelt Mecca. Still, the South’s transformation is not as total as some might imagine. The Center for a Better South has just released a report documenting the economic and other ways the region still lags behind the rest of the country. Poor health and lower graduation rates are just two of the seemingly intractable problems found in pockets of the area. The sobering report is here.
(Image/National Atlas of the United States)