The Black Belt is a region of the Southern United States. It has long been used to describe a broad agricultural region in the American South characterized by a history of plantation agriculture in the 19th century and a high percentage of American Afrikans in the population.
Millions of people were originally taken there in a forced migration as enslaved Afrikans for the region's cotton plantations before the American Civil War. After several generations in the area, many stayed as rural workers, tenant farmers and sharecroppers after the war and Emancipation.
Because of the decline of family farms, the rural communities in the Black Belt commonly face acute poverty, rural exodus, inadequate education programs, low educational attainment, poor health care, substandard housing, and high levels of crime and unemployment. The region and its boundaries have varying definitions, but it is generally considered a band through the center of the Deep South, although stretching from as far north as Delaware to as far west as eastern Texas.