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African American Migration Patterns

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African American Migration Patterns

Based on Top Ranked States of Birth

These interactive maps provide a glimpse into the overall patterns of black migration in the United States between 1920 and 2010. One charts the movement of blacks from their states of origin to key destination cities in the North, the other follows the more recent movement in reverse to the South.

Between 1910 and 1970, more than 5 million blacks left the South for major cities in the North and West, including Pittsburgh, New York, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and Los Angeles. Their departures were fueled in part by the availability of low skilled jobs in the burgeoning manufacturing industry after both World Wars. Other contributing factors included the drying up of southern agriculture jobs due to farm mechanization as well as the increasingly repressive social environment. In 1910 the nation’s largest black populations were in Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama; in 1970 the largest black populations were in New York, Illinois, and California.

The last 45 years has seen a “reverse migration” of blacks, with large gains in “new south” metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, and Charlotte. The slowdown in manufacturing employment and deteriorating race relations in the North, coupled with the postwar economic renaissance in southern cities, have brought new generations of blacks to a region that their grandparents and great grandparents sought to leave. Between 2000 and 2010, Atlanta led the nation in black population gains at the same time that New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles registered declines.

—William H. Frey, PhD, demographer, sociologist, and author of Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America (2015)

African American Migration PatternsBased on Top Ranked States of BirthUnited StatesALMSARMOKSCOCAORWAMTIDWYUTNVAZNMNDSDNEIAMNWIMIPANYVTNHMEMACTRINJMDDEOKTNNCVAWVILINOHKYGASCFLLATXLos AngelesSt. LouisChicagoDetroitPittsburghNew YorkMemphisHoustonCharlotteOrlandoAtlantaBaltimore

Migration Data

Reverse Migration Data