2010 Census showcases America's great racial seesaw
According to the 2010 Census, the South is now home to 57 percent of the US black population, the most since 1960. The return migration is linked to jobs and living costs, but also to an attachment to the region.
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"But they also left because of jobs," he says, "and they have returned because of jobs and because their families had always had an attachment to the South." Because of a combination of Southern offerings – place affinity, racial peace, and work – "blacks are moving away from the urban North."Skip to next paragraph
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Indeed, blacks leaving the North for the South made up a major portion of the region's gains. More than 1 million blacks living in the South today were born in the Northeast, 10 times the number in 1970, The New York Times reports.
A fairly strong Southern economy, higher average wages for blacks, and lower living costs (let's not forget warmer weather) all played a role in the migration of blacks southward. But importantly, after nearly 50 years of civil rights reforms and reconciliation in the South, many Northern blacks are no longer afraid of stereotypical Southern intolerance.
"Sometimes [Southern stereotypes] have to do with the poverty and what's thought to be cultural ignorance and intolerance, but it's harder to make the case now that this is going on when we have cities like Atlanta and Nashville and Raleigh and a much more fully 'modern' South that has all of the good and the bad of the broader culture," says Larry Griffin, author of the "The South as an American Problem."
The Census shows America remains a largely segregated republic. But along with the churning of largely middle-class blacks has come declining segregation in many American cities, particularly in the South and West, the Census reports.
As Manifest Destiny and the Great Migration proved in the past, migration continues to reinvent and reshape the American experiment. That continues now, says Census Director Robert Groves. "The center of population has moved in a southerly direction in the most extreme way we've ever seen in history," he said Thursday, referring to the 23.4 mile southwest shift of the country's population center, from Phelps County, Mo., to Texas County, Mo.
"I think that's news, mainly because when those young blacks or young Hispanics or young whites decide to go to the South, they're not just bringing themselves, but they're bringing the potential of the next generation with them," says Professor Johnson at UNH. "This story is not just about what's happening in places they're going, but the places they're leaving."
IN PICTURES: Race in America