Blacks hold governmental power in Atlanta. They have a two-to-one majority on the city council, and Andrew Young is in his second term as the city's second black mayor. Moreover, blacks are a substantial presence in the civic life of Atlanta. They have held the presidency of the Chamber of Commerce, and are to be found among the membership of every important board and commission in the public life of the community. The political incorporation of blacks in Atlanta is now strong enough for Mayor Young to entertain the possibility of city-county consolidation. Even with such a move, blacks presumably would remain at the center of public life in Atlanta.
How such a seemingly strong form of political incorporation came about is in part a familiar story. Key facts in the city's political history are widely known:
1. In 1946, Georgia's white primary was invalidated. A voter-registration drive in the black community brought nearly 20,000 new voters onto the rolls, making the black community more than a quarter of the city's electorate (Bacote, 1955).
2. Atlanta's mayor at the time, William B. Hartsfield, recognized the potential for taking on Atlanta's black community as junior partners in a coalition built around the mutually reinforcing themes of economic growth and racial moderation. He and his successor, Ivan Allen, Jr., profited electorally from that coalition over the next twenty years (see Jennings and Zeigler, 1966).
3. Atlanta's black community entered a new and more assertive phase in 1960 as direct-action protests signalled the end of the era of quiet accommodation between established black and white leaders (Walker, 1963).
4. The 1970 census reports show that Atlanta's population balance had tilted to a black majority, and, in 1973, Maynard Jackson was elected as Atlanta's first black mayor. Jackson was reelected by a comfortable margin in 1977, and he has been followed by Atlanta's second black mayor, Andrew Young. Mayor Young was reelected in a landslide in 1985.