Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Kristi J. Andersen


American Politics, Civil Rights, Great Migration, Party Position Change, Political Parties

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


After a history of hostility toward Black people, what motivated the Democratic Party of the 1960s to change its position on civil rights? My dissertation examines one of the most significant developments in American political history--the shift of the U.S. political parties on racial issues. In Relocation and Realignment: How the Great Migration changed the face of the Democratic Party, I argue that increasing competition between the parties for the presidency and the mass movement of Black people out of the South coincided to drive the Democratic Party's change on racial issues. Through examination of primary sources and a fresh perspective on existing research, I show that the Democratic Party changed their stance in an effort to secure support from Black voters in the North--who often constituted the balance of power (BOP) in important elections. Relocation and Realignment is an important contribution to the study of American politics for its attention to the political impact of the Great Migration and for its focus on Black voters before the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


Open Access