Southern Democrats and Educational Opportunity

southern dem

After LBJ passed the Civil Rights Act, legend has it that he said: “There goes the South for a generation.”

His point being that Republicans would capture the white Southern vote for the next few decades.

LBJ’s prediction has in many ways come true. The South is a Republican stronghold.


Last week, the Georgia legislature passed a bill to that will lead to a statewide referendum this fall.

The question on the referendum will be whether or not to amend the state constitution to: “to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance.”

The bill received very little support from state Democrats.

I went to Atlanta to testify in support of the bill. I do not know if my testimony had any effect.

In the end, Republicans carried a bill that, I believe, will provide increased educational opportunity for poor and minority youth.

Of course, I may be wrong.

But I was confident enough in my opinion to testify in front of a public body.


I have voted for a Democrat in every election that I’ve ever participated in, save for one: I voted for Bobby Jindal during his first successful bid for governor.

I voted for Jindal because of his support for high-quality charter schools.

In voting for Jindal, I had to vote for a candidate who has taken the following stances:

  • Citizens of the same gender should not be able to express their love through marriage.
  • Medicaid should not be expanded to provide poor families with health insurance.
  • Creationism should be taught alongside evolutionism.

It pains me that, in the South, I had to choose between voting for educational opportunity and voting for LGBT rights, healthcare for the poor, and science.

But that’s the choice I faced.

I don’t know if I voted correctly.


At the Clinton Library, which I recently visited, there is a display about how a Southern Democrat named Bill Clinton helped grow charter schools across the country.


Will Democrats ever be able to capture the South from Republicans?

I don’t know.

To win back the South, they will, I suspect, need to capture more of the center.

Their current education platform may be preventing them from doing so.


Politics aside, I worry that Southern Democrats are on the wrong side of history.

I believe Southern Democrats can course correct and end up on the right side of history.

I hope that this occurs.

In part because I want the party to be the best version of itself, but mostly because it will benefit children who desperately need their support.

2 thoughts on “Southern Democrats and Educational Opportunity

  1. Cozzi, John

    The 1964 Civil Rights Act was supported by over 60% of Democrats and over 80% of Republicans. It’s not clear Democrats were ever really in the forefront on this issue.

    John F. Cozzi Partner AEA Investors LP 666 Fifth Avenue, 36 Floor, New York, NY 10103 Office: 212-702-0504 | Mobile: 908-347-1427



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