Today, the South, where 55 percent of America’s black population lives, is increasingly looking like a different country. Fewer children can read; more adults have HIV; its residents suffer from the shortest life expectancies of any in the United States. Earlier this year, when the Social Science Research Council released its latest “Measure of America” report—which ranks each state on its quality of health, income, and education measures—six of the eleven states that made up the former Confederacy were in the bottom quintile. What’s more, that deprivation tends to be concentrated in the parts of these states with disproportionately large African American populations.

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The Civil Rights Movement Is Going in Reverse in Alabama

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