Southern Exposure: A New Day for the South?

In 2008, fully one-third of Electoral College votes for president coming from Southern states went to Democrat Barack Obama, who went on to become the nation's first African-American president.

The 2008 elections weren't just historic, they were deeply personal. This was especially true for African-American voters and those concerned about racial justice in the South, where not long ago the election of a black man to the White House was considered unimaginable.

After President-elect Barack Obama's victory, the online organizing group asked its members for their reactions. They were deluged with nearly 7,500 responses, with a large share coming from the South. Throughout the issue, you will find these stories reprinted from

What do the 2008 elections tell us about the changing political landscape of the South? In this widely-circulated issue, Southern Exposure's writers look at how the South is changing and what it means for the future of our region and country.

Featured in this issue:

A New South Rising | By Chris Kromm
The 2008 elections revealed that the South is rapidly changing and a key political battleground. Then why are pundits saying it's time to write off the region?

A Divide has been Erased | An Interview with Julian Bond
Civil rights veteran and co-founder of the Institute for Southern Studies Julian Bond reflects on the meaning of Barack Obama's victory.

Election 2008 by the Numbers | The Institute Index
Facts and statistics of a historic election season in the South.

Hope For The Gulf Coast? | By Sue Sturgis
President-elect Barack Obama made Gulf Coast recovery a key theme of his campaign.
Today, thousands of struggling residents - including those still displaced by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike - are prepared to make sure Obama lives up to his promises.

Unblock The Vote | By Desiree Evans and Chris Kromm
Elections in the South and around the country ran a little smoother in 2008 --
but our election system still keeps millions from having a voice.


  • 2 A New South Rising
    • A Changing Political Landscape
    • Time to Write Off the South?
    • A New Southern Strategy
  • 9 "A DIVIDE HAS BEEN ERASED" Julian Bond Reflects on the 2008 Elections
    • The President's Promises
    • A Stalled Recovery
    • A New Agenda for the Gulf
    • Making the List: Voter Registration
    • Easing Pressure at the Polls: Early Voting
    • Safeguarding Democracy: Enforcement of Voter Laws
    • Restoring the Vote: Full Citizenship for Former Felons
    • Taking Money Out of Politics
    • A New Moment for Reform?

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Since 1973 Southern Exposure has gained critical praise for its thorough investigations, unsentimental portraits of Southern life, and public interest reporting.