voting age populations. In 1984 Atlanta led all southern cities with 43 black elected officials followed by Houston with 29 black officeholders. ( 21) There were 26 black elected officials in Memphis, New Orleans had 20, Birmingham had 18, and Tampa had 4 black elected officals in 1984. Despite the efforts at the local level, blacks remain underrepresented as political officeholders.( 22)
There are clear indications that the "sleeping giant," the black electorate in the South, is awakening. Blacks are also gradually moving into decision-making offices on local school boards and in superintendent positions that have the potential of shaping future educational policies. For example, Atlanta, New Orleans, Memphis, and Birmingham all had black school superintendents in 1987. The struggle to control large urban school districts in the South has become the new civil rights bone of contention in the eighties. Battles often revolve around issues such as the underrepresentation of blacks in administrative positions, minority teacher hiring, teacher experience in poor and affluent schools, and the quality of educational programs in inner-city schools. Urban school boards have become polarized along racial and class lines. A number of factors have contributed to this polarization: teacher discontent, teacher assignment, teacher hiring and termination, school closing, pupil transfers, and pupil assignment to magnet programs, and special education classes.
A new form of school segregation appears to be emerging in large urban school districts. A disproportionately large share of lower-income black students attend schools apart from whites but also apart from their middle-income black counterparts. The conflict over magnet schools and the limited slots in the talented and gifted programs most often is between middle-income blacks and their white counterparts who have remained in the public school system. Lower-income black youth more often than not end up in overcrowded, poorly equipped, and inadequately staffed inner-city schools.
The expanding economy of the South during the seventies heightened status dilemmas and social inequities between blacks and whites. Economic recessions in the eighties eroded many of the gains made in the seventies. A large segment of the Black South, many rural and central city blacks, received few, if any, benefits from the rise of the New South. Social, economic and political progress passed over thousands of black households. Moreover, the favorable business climate that was so often cited for the southern region's popularity in the 1970s often translated into low wages, poverty, and powerless black workers. To many blacks, the New South was nothing but an extension of the Old South with only minor modifications.
Resistance to black economic and political parity with the larger society has not disappeared. Black southerners still encounter obstacles registering to vote and in actually voting. Black voters still must face at-large elections, distant polling places, gerrymandered districts, annexations, acts and threats of intimidation, economic blackmail, and similar practices designed to dilute their voting stength. The issues surrounding school desegregation have not all been resolved. Black workers continue to be denied jobs and promotions because of their race. Discrimination has taken on a more sophisticated face which makes it easy to practice but difficult to prove.
Living conditions for many black southerners were unaffected by the boom of the seventies. The eighties, on the other hand, saw the region's black urban underclass expand along with other problems which often accompany fiscally strained cities. Included in these problem were a dwindling tax base, inadequate public services, loss of low-and-moderate