Macon County is a county in the U.S. state of Alabama. Its name is in honor of Nathaniel Macon, a member of the United States Senate from North Carolina. Developed for cotton plantation agriculture in the nineteenth century, it is one of the counties in Alabama within the Black Belt of the South.
As of the 2010 census, the population was 21,452. Its county seat is Tuskegee. Mostly rural and with high rates of poverty, the county has a majority African American population, descendants of slaves who worked on the plantations before the American Civil War. In the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election, Macon had the third-highest number of voters in the state for the Democratic Senator John Kerry. It was the setting of the 1974 movie, Macon County Line.
For thousands of years, this area was inhabited by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. The historic tribes encountered by European explorers were the Creek people, descendants of the Mississippian culture.
Macon County was established by European Americans on December 18, 1832, from land ceded by the Creek, following the US Congress' passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Creek were removed to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. The new settlers brought slaves with them from eastern areas of the South, or purchased them in slave markets, such as at New Orleans. They developed the county for large cotton plantations.
In the first half of the twentieth century, thousands of blacks migrated out of the county to industrial cities in the North and Midwest for job opportunities, and lives away from legal segregation. Those who remained have struggled in the mostly rural county.
Before 1983, Macon County, Alabama, was primarily known as the home of historic Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, and its famous founder and first president, Dr. Booker T. Washington. The quiet hamlet began to awaken in 1983 when parimutuel gambling came to Macon County in the form of VictoryLand greyhound racing.