South Carolina 6th District
South Carolina was first settled by planters from Barbados, bringing with them a tropical plantation economy, which they transferred to the not-quite-tropical climate of the Carolina coastal lowlands. The flat Lowcountry and the coastal islands are laced with sluggish rivers and swamps. The planters brought thousands of slaves from Africa, and Colonial South Carolina quickly became one of the richest parts of North America, with dazzling Georgian architecture in Charleston and classic plantation gardens. The planters built great irrigation systems and grew rice and cotton and the dye-plant indigo, all heavily in demand in Britain and elsewhere. All this wealth, of course, was built on the slave labor of countless African-Americans. In colonial times, a majority of South Carolinians were slaves, as were a majority of lowlands residents when Fort Sumter was fired upon (although there were also many free blacks in Charleston, a few of whom owned slaves themselves). South Carolina’s black heritage has left a lasting imprint on American culture. Gullah, a mixture of English, French and African dialects is still spoken on the sea islands, and Gullah customs survive—oyster roasts and sweet potato feasts at Christmas, handmade dolls and sweetgrass baskets. The poverty that was the almost universal lot of lowland blacks after the Civil War has eased only in the last generation, as development came to the coast and cultural isolation dissipated. But many African-Americans decided not to wait for progress. They abandoned South Carolina for opportunities in the North.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 6th Congressional District of South Carolina, created in 1992 as a black-majority district, includes only a bit of the South Carolina coast, which is increasingly lined with affluent retirement and recreational communities. The district’s boundaries take in the black central city neighborhoods of Charleston, North Charleston and Columbia, but leave out their affluent white areas, both urban and suburban, in the adjacent 1st and 2d Districts. The 6th includes Orangeburg, home of the historically black South Carolina State University, and Florence, at the center of the Pee Dee tobacco-growing country in eastern South Carolina. Orangeburg was the scene of a massacre in February 1968, when three black students were killed and 27 wounded by police while protesting a segregated bowling alley. The Pee Dee area has had substantial economic growth as a warehousing and distribution center: the QVC home shopping network opened a $75 million facility there in 2007. In Orangeburg, the Dubai-based Economic Zones World unveiled in late 2008 plans for an industrial and warehouse site that would create more than 3,000 jobs. Most of the cargo would arrive through the Charleston port. The 6th’s population in 2007 was 55% African-American. In 2008, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama got 64% of the vote, carrying every county except for Florence. This was the only South Carolina district he won.