"It will surprise no one to see that the two big stories of the twentieth-century South are the transition from an agricultural to an urban society and the transformation effected by the Civil Rights movement."
Spring 2001’s South Polls unveiled our list of “The Twenty Most Influential Southerners of the Twentieth Century.” Mike Burg, president of Edge Marketing in Charlotte, North Carolina, had asked me to develop the list as the century was coming to an end. He also had asked for a list of “Defining Moments of the Twentieth-century South”–events that symbolized, set in motion, or represented the culmination of important changes for the region. Our panel of thirteen distinguished southerners obliged with forty: twenty before mid-century and twenty after. (This was the same panel we used to compile our list of influential southerners. The panel was composed of men and women who had written or thought about the South and who we chose to be broadly representative of professional fields and subregions.)