The Election of African American State Legislators in the Modern South

Charles S. Bullock, William D. Hicks, M. V. Hood, Seth C. McKee, Daniel A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study is the most comprehensive analysis of the election of black state legislators in the American South. We start with the election of Leroy Johnson to the Georgia Senate in 1962, the first African American to win a state legislative seat in the modern South. We also document the election of all subsequent African Americans who were the first to enter their southern state legislative chambers. Next, we assess the factors influencing the election of southern black state legislators from the 1970s through 2015. Because of notable long-term changes to the southern electorate and alterations in the racial composition of legislative districts, there has been substantial variation in the likelihood of electing black lawmakers. Our final analysis highlights the undeniable reality and broader significance that the increasing share of southern African American state legislators has occurred at the same time that Republican representation has grown at a greater rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-608
Number of pages28
JournalLegislative Studies Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Southern politics
  • descriptive representation
  • majority-minority districts
  • racial gerrymandering
  • state legislative elections


Dive into the research topics of 'The Election of African American State Legislators in the Modern South'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this