Black Migration In Reverse

African Americans are leaving major cities for opportunities in the South

Decades of vacating Dixie are reversing, reports The Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan research organization. According to The New Great Migration: Black Americans’ Return to the South, 1965-2000, during the latter part of the ’90s, the South was the only region in the U.S. that saw an increase in black residents.

In fact, the study shows that over the last three decades, the South has become a “magnet” for black Americans, particularly college-educated professionals.

In the 20th century, there was an exodus of blacks from the South, while the Northeast, Midwest, and West saw an increase in African Americans during the Great Migration.

The tide started turning during the ’70s, mostly due to economic factors. The Northeast and Midwest regions of the country began losing manufacturing jobs to the Sunbelt, which led to black migrants preferring Southern destinations in the late ’90s: 85% of blacks residing in the Northeast headed south. For the first time in several decades, the Western and Midwestern parts of the country saw decreases in black residents. From 1995 to 2000, urban areas around Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco lost 3% to 6% of their black residents. Conversely, newcomers made up 5.5 %, 7.6%, and 9.6% of the growing black populations in Dallas, Charlotte, and Atlanta, respectively.

This reverse migration — primarily attributed to an improved racial climate, employment opportunities, and historical ties — differs greatly from the large numbers of blacks who initially headed north, says Roderick Harrison, director of DataBank at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C. Migration north was mainly rural to urban, but movement south has been primarily from major cities to growing metropolitan areas.

Underscoring this further, seven of BLACK ENTERPRISE’s top 10 cities for African Americans are below the Mason-Dixon line (see “Top Cities for African Americans,” July 2004).

Several recent studies have chronicled the impact of centuries of black population shifts. Another such index, entitled In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience, was released in February. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York launched a vast Website (www.inmotion aame.org/home.cfm) indexing 13 defining black migration
source: the Brookings Institution

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