Atlanta Secession Bid Raises Race Issues

What used to be Milton County is now largely white and Republican andaffluent. Atlanta and its southern suburbs are mostly black, arecontrolled by Democrats and have neighborhoods with some of the highestpoverty rates in America.

In the cradle of the civil rights movement, a new secession effortis under way that would break off Atlanta’s predominantly white,wealthy suburbs to the north from poorer, black neighborhoods in thesouth.

There’s a renewed push to take some suburbs out of Fulton County,Georgia’s most populous and home to most of the city of Atlanta, andput them under the now-extinct Milton County.

Its supporters hope resurrecting the county would give residentsthere more responsive government. But opponents say the measure isracially motivated and will open up a deep rift between black andwhite, rich and poor in a state with a complicated racial history. Thearea that would be split off is more than 75 percent white, while alarge block of the remaining portion of Fulton County is 90 percentminority (They mean 90% black and mestizo. — Ed.).

Splitting off the county’s wealthiest cities could be a devastatingblow to Atlanta, which is grappling with a steep budget shortfall andskyrocketing pension obligations. State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, an AtlantaDemocrat and (black only — Ed) civil rights activist, called it a “sucker punch” for thecity, which is the engine for the state.