More Blacks Leaving East Coast, Midwest Cities for South

A recent New York Times article focused on a black family's return to Atlanta from New York, where they had migrated in the 1950s as part of the so-called Great Migration. According to census data, from which the Times took its information, "the economic downturn has propelled a striking demographic shift: black New Yorkers, including many who are young and college educated, are heading south." And it's not just New York: "The percentage of blacks leaving big cities in the East and in the Midwest and heading to the South is now at the highest levels in decades, demographers say."

Still, the move south appears to be strongest among New Yorkers. "About 17 percent of the African-Americans who moved to the South from other states in the past decade came from New York, far more than from any other state, according to census data. Of the 44,474 who left New York State in 2009, more than half, or 22,508, went to the South." Those migrating south are typically from middle-class enclaves, and some fear their departure is having a negative impact on the communities they leave behind, "helping to depress already falling housing prices. [Their departure] is also depriving the black community of investment and leadership from some of its most educated professionals, black leaders say."

The move south is seemingly a reverse of the aforementioned Great Migration, "which lasted roughly from World War I to the 1970s and saw African-Americans moving to the industrializing North to escape prejudice and find work." But with economic opportunities in the north scarce, and the desire of many blacks to reconnect with their past in the south, the north appears to have lost its appeal for many black Americans.

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