- Associated Press - Saturday, May 23, 2015

CONYERS, Ga. (AP) - Numerous counties in metro Atlanta have seen a large racial shift this century, akin to a reversal of the 20th century’s Great Migration, when millions of African-Americans moved to the North.

Census figures reveal Rockdale County’s black population grew by 230 percent between 2000 and 2013, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (https://bit.ly/1HBgaYJ). Rockdale’s white population fell 34.9 percent over that same period, the largest percentage decrease in white population of any county in the country.

Similar changes have occurred in metro Atlanta’s Henry, Douglas and Gwinnett counties.

Located about 40 minutes east of Atlanta, Rockdale, which includes the city of Conyers, had been a Republican stronghold for years.

Since 2008, though, Rockdale has voted for Barack Obama twice and elected its first black county Board of Commissioners chairman, sheriff, Magistrate Court judge, coroner, and tax commissioner - all Democrats.



“To the extent that Georgia is going to be a (politically) purple state - which a lot of people think will happen - it is going to be heavily because of this black migration,” said William Frey, a demographer for the Brookings Institution, a public policy research group based in Washington.

Jonny Brown, a white Republican member of Rockdale’s Board of Elections, wrote a controversial editorial on a conservative news website in 2012 decrying the recent changes in the county. The column metaphorically described the county as a “little white plane” that became blacker over time and was eventually hijacked by liberals he predicted would bring “crime, incompetence, cronyism and corruption.”

Denying claims that the column was racist, Brown later took aim at the “thugs” he said were moving into the community.

Despite Brown’s claim that Rockdale’s crime rate is “skyrocketing,” Rockdale’s Sheriff’s Office documented smaller numbers of robberies, assaults, burglaries, thefts and auto thefts last year than it had in any of the previous four years, though two categories of violent crime - murders and rapes - increased last year.

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Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, https://www.ajc.com

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