The American South, referring to the states of the Civil War which broke away from the Union, have been said to have changed in the years since the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.
With African Americans given the right to vote, and civil rights being enforced by the federal government, we saw a switch of many white Democrats, who believed in segregation of the races, to the Republican Party, including a vast majority of state and national officeholders.
Those who remained Democrats were seen as “moderates” who wished to bridge the gap between the races, and keep the heritage of equal rights and social justice connected, and therefore, we saw the triumph of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton winning the Presidency, reflecting a “changed” South.
But while Carter and Clinton were inspirational to many, the truth is that the majority of white southerners remain what they were before—unwilling to accept racial equality, resentful of Northern liberal influence on their section of the country, and using their religious views to oppose gay rights, labor rights, women’s equality, and immigrant rights.
So despite Bill Clinton backing the fight against Amendment One in North Carolina, putting traditional marriage alone in the state constitution, the amendment passed easily, most notably supported by the Reverend Billy Graham, now 93, who along with his preacher son, Franklin Graham, show us just how little progress has been made in North Carolina, the last “Old South” state to ban gay marriage in its constitution.
Even with the popularity of Bill Clinton nationally, and the fact of the victories years ago of both Clinton and Jimmy Carter, the “Old South” is still very much evident in what some attempt to consider the “New South”! The past is not yet past, sad to say!