Black Americans Are Fleeing Democratic Cities and Reversing the Great Migration | Opinion

Over 50 years after the Great Migration ended, an increasing number of Black Americans are returning to the places from which their ancestors fled. But this time, they are not making this exodus to escape racism. They are fleeing Democratic-led cities in the North to chase economic opportunity. Despite the fact that many Black Americans still view the South as a hotbed of racist attitudes, Blacks have been moving to southern states in droves.

It's nothing short of a Great Migration Reversal.

Starting in the early 20th century, Black migrants began the process of relocating to the North and the West in search of better living and working conditions. They sought to escape the impact of the racism that manifested in discriminatory Jim Crow policies designed to keep them in a situation that was as close to slavery as white Southerners could get without running afoul of the 13th Amendment.

Before the Great Migration, about 90 percent of Blacks resided in the South. By 1970, the number had decreased to 52 percent, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. A whopping six million black Americans made the trip out of the South.

What we're seeing now is the mirror image: African Americans are returning to the areas of the country that their ancestors fled. And as demographer William Frey explained in his book Diversity Explosion, most of those making the move are younger families and retirees seeking to take advantage of better economic conditions and safer neighborhoods. To that end, they are heading South. With a deep dive into the U.S. census, Frey found that between 2015 and 2019, the cities that received the most Black migrants were Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston. Georgia has had the largest influx over the past three decades, doubling from 1.8 million to 3.5 million between 1990 and 2019.

In the meantime, Black populations in northern and western states have seen a sharp decline. The census also showed the Chicago metropolitan area losing 130,000 black residents. Cities like Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and New York City have had similar drops in their Black populations.

Galveston
GALVESTON, TEXAS - JUNE 19: People listen during a service at the Reedy Chapel A.M.E. Church on June 19, 2022 in Galveston, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Washington Post conducted a series of interviews with Black Americans in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas who had relocated from the North in recent decades. "Like many of those who moved during the original Great Migration, the primary driver of their decisions to leave home was economic," the Post found. "They moved South either with a new job already in hand or with hope that they could find work in some of the nation's fastest-growing cities."

Many of these Black families made the move to the South seeking affordable housing so they could amass the kind of generational wealth that their parents and grandparents were prevented from attaining due to redlining.

This Great Migration Reversal appears to be part of an overall paradigm shift in which families are fleeing blue states in favor of red states. Like Black Americans, the rest of the country is relocating to seek economic opportunities and to escape the rising cost of living in blue cities. Americans regardless of ethnicity and political affiliation are increasingly choosing to live in conservative-leaning states.

But for African Americans in particular this represents an interesting development given the racist history of the South which caused us to move North in the first place. Is it possible the South has changed?

Of course. Moreover, even Black Americans who do view the South as more racist seem not to view this racism as a significant enough barrier to block them from achieving their economic objectives.

The Reverse Great Migration flies in the face of the prevailing progressive narrative about African Americans being utterly helpless in the face of "white supremacy" and "systemic racism." We are voting with our feet for better opportunities. And increasingly, that's in red states.

Jeff Charles is the host of "A Fresh Perspective" podcast and a contributor for RedState and Liberty Nation.

The views in this article are the writer's own.