Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Great Migration In Reverse: African Americans Return To The South

While New York's population is growing, attracting a vast global elite, and still surging immigrant populations, on some deep level the city has failed as a place most of it's working middle class residents either can or increasingly want to deal with.

Many, particularly in the far flung semi suburban areas that make up large parts of Brooklyn, Queens and even more so New Jersey and Long Island are packing it in and heading south--including, now several of my relatives, who also now live in the Charlotte area.

No group seems to be making this choice more than it's black middle and working class.

For New Life, Blacks in City Head to South

Spencer Crew, a history professor at George Mason University who was the curator of a prominent exhibit on the Great Migration at the Smithsonian Institution, said the current exodus from New York stemmed largely from tough economic times. New York is increasingly unaffordable, and blacks see more opportunities in the South.

The South now represents the potential for achievement for black New Yorkers in a way it had not before, Professor Crew said. At the same time, unionized civil service jobs that once drew thousands of blacks to the city are becoming more scarce.

“New York has lost some of its cachet for black people,” Professor Crew said. “During the Great Migration, blacks went north because you could find work if you were willing to hustle. But today, there is less of a struggle to survive in the South than in New York. Many blacks also have emotional and spiritual roots in the South. It is like returning home.”

This is part of a much larger emerging trend strongly impacting the former Rust Belt worthy of a series of posts.

Chicago -- Fewer Blacks in City Could Affect the Politics

Blacks leaving major cities for life in the suburban South

Study Finds African Americans Leaving Cleveland

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