Stacey Abrams’ victory in the Georgia Democratic gubernatorial primary put her one step closer to becoming the first black female governor in the U.S. To understand what Abrams is up against in November, when she’ll compete against two Republican men in a red state that has only elected white men, it’s useful to look at the state’s history of white supremacy and how that legacy affects Georgians today. One county in particular shoulders an especially egregious past.
The northern county of Forsyth, one of Georgia’s 10 most populous, leans heavily white and conservative. Its demographics are shaped by an event that happened in 1912, when white people forced out all 1,098 of Forsyth’s black residents, who comprised about 10 percent of the population at the time.
Growing up as a white boy in Forsyth, writer Patrick Phillips says that he’d always heard that the county had driven out the black population to protect its white women after black men had raped and killed one woman. As an adult, he researched the real story and published his findings in Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America.
“There was in fact a white woman who was murdered in 1912 and her name was Mae Crow,” he says. “She was 18 years old and she was found under very mysterious circumstances beaten and bloody and unconscious in the woods.”