From The Grio — The portrait of black America has changed dramatically over the course of the past decade. Newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows significant demographic changes and shifts happening throughout the country and perhaps a reversal of the Great Migration as more and more blacks return to the South.
Take for instance Chicago — the nation’s third largest city which has long been deemed the political nerve center for African-Americans. Over the last 10 years, the city lost 200,000 residents and those blacks who left have migrated to nearby suburbs or were forced to seek affordable housing elsewhere following the demolition of numerous public housing complexes. But others left the state altogether and, in some instances, returned to the South where many still have family ties and roots.
WATCH THE NIGHTLY NEWS COVERAGE HERE
A close look at new census data for Southern states confirms the patterns. In Georgia and Florida, for example, the black population increased between 23 and 25 percent respectively over the past decade. Even in Louisiana, a state still wrestling with the impact of Hurricane Katrina, the black population increased, though marginally, contrary to the expectations of many.
Numerous explanations have been presented for the exodus of African-Americans from Northern cities and move to Southern suburbs. Some attribute the shift to a poor economy and the resulting loss of manufacturing jobs in many urban areas. Others attribute the shift to dramatic gentrification of urban communities over the course of the past decade. And some commentators have even suggested that hyper-aggressive police tactics and general over-policing of urban communities in places such as New York City have simply driven those with the means to flee cities altogether.
While there may be no single explanation for the shift, it has become clear that increasing numbers of African-Americans are moving away from cities and instead opting for Southern suburbs. And, in the South itself, 58 percent of African-Americans left large metropolitan areas and chose to migrate to nearby suburbs — a rate 17 percent higher than that for the rest of Americans.