For the past ten-plus years, many Southern States have witnessed an influx of blacks from areas that are typically known to be Blue—or democratic—states. This particular trend is the reverse of the one that occurred during the Reconstruction Era, when many blacks left the South in large numbers to work in the factories of cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Gary, and Cleveland. Cities such as New York benefited greatly from the migration, which positioned the city to host such golden eras as the Harlem Renaissance, which spanned the 1920s.
Decades later, however, the tables have turned. Blacks are returning to the South in large numbers, making their homes in cities such as Atlanta, Charlotte, and Houston. Although the overall black population in the South is considerably lower than what it was before the Great Migration in the early 1900s, it does boast roughly 57 percent of the African American population residing there.
Another factor that contributes to the black migration back to the South is the cost of living. Cities such as Los Angeles New York, and Washington, D.C. are homes to some of the nation’s highest cost-of-living indexes. For example, the median home price in Atlanta is $248,000, compared to Washington, D.C., where the median home price is nearly $500,000.
Perhaps the most unnerving factor that has prompted blacks to return to the South is the shadow of gentrification that looms over many of the United States’ metropolitan areas. Because gentrification has forced many blacks out of these U.S. cities with large black populations, many of them have been left isolated, leaving them culturally, economically, and socially vulnerable.
Despite the aforementioned reports of economic and social despair, many areas of the South contrast to their Northern, Midwestern, and West Coast counterparts by offering opportunities for blacks based off of the sheer size of its black population. Atlanta is often considered a “Black Mecca” and “Black Hollywood” because of the large number of black entertainers, business owners, and public figures who have relocated to Georgia’s state capital. With such a large and successful black demographic, doors are opened for continual black community growth.
While the South remains the hub of American conservatism, it has simultaneously become the preferred location of Black Americans from around the country to return to the very same region that once enslaved them, and now enables them to improve their quality of life.
by B. Clark