MIKE SCHNEIDER – Associated Press
Brandon Manning and his wife were born in the southern United States and were eager to return, but Manning did not want to return to his native Atlanta because of traffic, housing costs and growth. So when he was offered a teaching job at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, the couple decided to give the smaller town a chance.
They were not alone. The largest increase in the population of African Americans in its purest form in the last decade has occurred not in Atlanta or Houston, which has long been identified as the center of black life, but in less congested cities with a smaller profile: Fort Worth; Columbus, Ohio; Jacksonville, Florida; and Charlotte, North Carolina. From 2010 to 2020, each received between 32,000 and 40,000 new black residents. 2020 census data.
Meanwhile, Black residents have left the country’s largest cities, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago by the tens of thousands.
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“The growth of Houston or Atlanta is just huge, and the traffic is making it hard to get around,” said Manning, an associate professor of black literature and culture who moved to Fort Worth from Las Vegas. that was manageable ”.
According to Sabrina Pendergrass, an associate professor of African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia, Manning is part of a new model of black migration from large cities to smaller ones, primarily in the south.
After a decade of black people’s migration Atlanta“There’s a feeling that … it can be harder to get a foothold in the economy if you want to start a business,” Pendergrass said. “In cities like Charlotte, there’s not much competition.”
From the 1910s to the 1960s, millions of black Americans participated in the Great Migration, moving to northern cities to avoid outspoken racism in the Jim Crow South. But over time, many have learned that racism is also prevalent in northern cities, in less obvious but no less insidious forms, such as restrictions on home loans, which amplify segregated neighborhoods. Now, in a trend known as “reverse migration,” some of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these original migrants have been returning to southern cities for years.
According to the 2020 census, African Americans make up 14% of the U.S. population, 58% of whom live in the south. These figures may differ slightly, as last week the Census Bureau reported that 3.3% of blacks were underestimated in the 2020 census, which is higher than in 2010.
Returning to the region was important for the Manners, who have relatives in Jackson, Mississippi.
“We needed to return to the South to be closer to family and closer to a way of life that is more familiar to us,” Brendan Manning said.
Fort Worth, Columbus, Jacksonville and Charlotte have seen explosive growth – from 15% to 24% – in the total population over the past decade. The black population grew at about the same rate in the three cities and surpassed it in Fort Worth. For this report, the Associated Press focused on individual cities rather than large metropolitan areas to gain a finer view of where black population growth is taking place.
Columbus is the only city included in the newest areas where black people move, which is not in the south. David Jones recalled that when he visited his grandparents in Columbus in the 1970s and 80s, the restaurant scene consisted of “Ponderos after Ponderos”. Now, according to him, it is a “real” city with a variety of snacks and live culture. Jones discovered the change when he moved there from Washington in March 2020 to start an affair and be closer to family.
“He has that relaxed character in the Midwest. It’s calmer than in DC, where things are a little more stressful, certainly more expensive, ”he said.“ People here are just more real. They don’t always seek to get something from someone else. I think it’s refreshing. “
Ohio State University, a large number of corporate headquarters, diverse production basethe relatively low cost of living and a thriving artistic community make the city attractive, said Columbus Council member Sheila Favor.
“There are a lot of opportunities for individuals to move up,” Favor said.
The city’s policies reflect the influx: the US congresswoman and city council president, police chief and school overseer are all African Americans. Columbus also had an influx of Somali immigrants, reflecting the fact that approximately 10% of black people in the United States were born in another country.
Black professionals who have moved from northern cities to Charlotte to get banking and technical jobs over the past decade have not only helped North Carolina become a more purple state politically, they have also brought their culture. Pendergrass notes that she has learned “Chicago Steppe”, a popular style of dance not in Windy City but in Charlotte, where she studied.
In many ways, this is a case of a cultural boomerang, just as black culture in northern cities was shaped by the experience of migrants from the Great Migration brought in from the south, Pendergrass said.
“Now we have people moving south, and they’re almost remixing it in that southern context,” Pendergrass said.
Associated Press writer Sophia Tarin of Chicago contributed to this report.
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