Top Cities For African Americans

“The best place to be” is very likely whatever location you feel most fits your needs, whether or not that area has afforded you a well-paying job, a spacious home, or plenty of social venues. Regardless of which metropolis you call home, our ranking boasts the top cities for African Americans.

Our 2004 listing bears some resemblance to our 2001 ranking. Seven cities have returned, while Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit have fallen from the list. Newcomers are Nashville, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; and Columbus, Ohio.

Other interesting facts about this year’s top picks:
Seven out of 10 are below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Two are in Tennessee. Texas claims another two cities.
Five out of 10 have a black mayor.
All have a black population of at least 25%.
Half have a black city population that is more than 50%.
Eight out of 10 have a cost of living index that is less than the national average.

Once again, our top picks were culled from more than 4,000 people who filled out an interactive survey placed on our Website ( We assessed the primary reasons residents live in their hometowns. As in 2001, this year’s survey revealed that the most important factors were in the areas of money and finance and career and business. Survey respondents placed a high priority on income earnings potential, cost of living, housing prices, and entrepreneurial opportunities. As in 2001, respondents expressed their general discontent with the quality of their public schools, the availability of day care facilities, and the relationship between local police and African American communities.

Each city profile highlights these and other important issues and each personal profile offers a point of view from those who know the city better than anyone else—its residents.


Baltimore returns to the list in the no. 10 spot. Echoing survey results, Baltimore is jam-packed with black-oriented cultural and recreational activities, including the soon-to-be completed Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Oriole Park, and an Inner Harbor bustling with shops, nightclubs, and restaurants.

The survey reveals that Baltimoreans have concerns about quality of life: The social scene is wanting, public schools are lacking, and job opportunities are in short supply. The area’s recent job growth and future job growth figures are a minuscule 0.5% and moderate 15.1%, respectively. However, at 8.1%, Baltimore has the third lowest number of jobless African Americans of the top 10. Sheila Dixon, city council president and chair of the Board of Estimates, points to new biotech facilities at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland which will create new jobs, as well as the relocation of Morgan Stanley from New York City.

Respondents remain content with earnings potential, cost of living, healthcare, and housing prices. While the city’s medical cost index is below average, its cost of living index is above the national average. About 32.2% of black households earn more than $50,000, third after Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. The average new home sells for $206,862.

The percentage of blacks holding high school diplomas, at 72.9%, lags behind other top cities. “We are reforming our high schools by making