WASHINGTON (AP) — African-Americans in the South are shunning city life for the suburbs at the highest levels in decades, rapidly integrating large metropolitan areas that were historically divided between inner-city blacks and suburban whites.

Census figures also show that Hispanic population growth for the first time outpaced that of blacks and whites in most of the South, adding to the region’s racial and ethnic mix.

“All of this will shake up the politics,” said Lance deHaven-Smith, a political science professor at Florida State
University in Tallahassee. Because the South is a critical region for Republicans in presidential elections, “all the Democrats have to do is pick up a couple Southern states, and Republicans are in trouble.”

The share of blacks in large metropolitan areas who opted to live in the suburbs climbed to 58 percent in the South, compared to 41 percent for the rest of the U.S., according to census estimates.

That’s up from 52 percent in 2000 and represents the highest share of suburban blacks in the South since the Civil Rights Act passed in the 1960s.

The South also had major gains in neighborhood integration between blacks and whites. Thirty-three of the region’s 38 largest metro areas made such gains since 2000, including all the large metros in Florida and Georgia, according to a commonly used demographic index. The measure, known as the segregation index, tracks the degree to which racial groups are evenly spread between neighborhoods.

Topping the list were rapidly diversifying metros in central Florida, as well in Texas and Kentucky, according to an analysis of 2010 census data released Thursday by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. Black-white integration accelerated over the past decade in Atlanta, whose share of the black population declined from 61 percent to 53 percent.

The decline in Atlanta’s black population is partly due to new suburban families including Ray Taylor, 34, and his wife, Marcia, 33. Four years ago, they moved from Atlanta to the northern suburb of Alpharetta, Ga., about 20 miles away, seeking better schools and a wider range of community activities. They now have two small children, ages 4 and 1.

Taylor, a political independent who voted for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, said he liked having more exposure to people of different racial and political backgrounds. Compared with Atlanta, Alpharetta has a broader mix of whites and Hispanics and tends to lean more Republican.

“We wanted to be close enough to access the city and have the best of both worlds,” he said.

Census figures also show that Hispanics contributed more to population gains than blacks in 13 of the 16 Southern states over the last decade, compared with seven states for Hispanics from 1990-2000. It was a clear sign of the shift under way for a region in which African-Americans have been the dominant minority group dating back to slavery.

In all, Hispanics accounted for roughly 45 percent of population gains in the South over the last decade, compared with about 22 percent for whites and 19 percent for blacks. Hispanic growth also has been surprisingly larger than expected in several Southern states, with official counts exceeding earlier estimates by more than 10 percent in Alabama, Louisiana and Maryland, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

“It’s clear that black growth continues to locate in the suburban South, leading to declines in their historic segregation,” Frey said. “This new dispersed growth of blacks, coupled with the new waves of Hispanic growth, are changing the region’s longstanding `black-white’ image and heralding the beginning of a more diverse region.”

The latest race figures offer a hint of some of the coming political wrangling in fast-growing parts of the South, where
Hispanic immigration as well as an influx of blacks from the North — two minority groups which tend to lean Democratic — have the potential to shift historic voting trends.

Next year, the South will be the site for the GOP National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., both states Obama carried in 2008 due partly to a large minority turnout. Both Charlotte and Tampa last year became cities in which whites now make up less than 50 percent of the population.

Other findings: –In the South, white children in Florida, Georgia, Maryland and Mississippi became a numerical minority for the first time this past decade, joining Texas and the District of Columbia. In Florida, where Obama has often sought to highlight education initiatives, about 28 percent of children are Hispanic, 20 percent black, 3.2 percent multiracial and 2.4 percent Asian.

Metropolitan areas in the South showing some of the biggest advances in black-white residential integration included Tampa, Orlando and Lakeland in central Florida; Louisville, Ky.; and Houston. Their segregation levels all fell in the middle range.-

etro areas in the West also had substantial changes with generally lower levels of segregation, while segregation in the Midwest and Northeast declined somewhat but was typically higher than average.

The South is the second most racially and ethnically diverse U.S. region after the West. Roughly 61 percent of its population is white, 19 percent black and 15 percent Hispanic. That’s compared with a national breakdown of 65 percent white, roughly 12 percent black and 16 percent Hispanic.

Hispanics in large metro areas in the South were more likely to live in suburbs — about 60 percent, compared with 56 percent for the rest of the nation.

DeHaven-Smith said the higher levels of black residential integration could make it harder for states to maintain majority black districts when they redraw political boundaries in the coming months. He also noted Florida’s demographic changes, with the central part of the state now becoming a presidential battleground due to an influx of non-Cuban Hispanics who are turning the Republican-leaning area more Democratic.

Florida will pick up two new House seats — which means two more electoral college votes beginning in 2012 — based on its population growth over the last decade. Census figures released Thursday showed population gains over the last decade exceeded 30 percent in central Florida counties such as Osceola, Lake, Sumter, Hernando, Pasco and St. Lucie.

“It’s a narrowly balanced, very polarized state, with the shifts occurring mostly in central Florida,” deHaven-Smith said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (20)
  1. James says:

    Please make up your mind, is it black or African American?????????

  2. whatnow says:

    Oh yeah, you will pick up democratic seats. Then you can be taxed to death like we are here. But the price you have to pay for those seats is steep. Be prepared for armed robberies at fast food places at 11:00 am. Shootings at grocery stores at 9:00 pm. Women in their 60’s being beaten half to death for their car at the mall at 6:00 in the evening. Yeah, this is real improvement!

  3. ha-ha says:

    and they say racism is dead!! who gives a hoot..but somebody is always keeping count…most ridiculous unimportant piece of news ever!!

  4. whatnow says:

    In the 70’s and 80’s racism was about dead. But it has made a roaring comeback in the last 15 years and people have brought it on themselves with their own actions. I truly believe the people that marched and sacrificed in the 50’s and 60’s for equal rights, including those that gave their lives, would be totally appalled at what this group has done with their rights. What a waste of humanity. I have so many middle class black friends who are so ashamed of their brothers and sisters. I tell them to just keep giving it the good fight.

    1. ha-ha says:

      I’m a “middle class black” woman and i’m not ashamd of nothing. humans are humans and unfortunately only the bad of my community is sensationalized in the media. but being educated and knowing the real truth about my people I would never be ashamed..its your friends that I would be ashamed of. if its that bad then they should do something. but again racism is kept alive because its about money as always. we all are going to be the minority both black and white. the natives (Mexicans) want America back..and as far as i’m concerned they can have it..

      1. whatnow says:

        I’m sorry for you that you think a culture that thrives on drugs and 3 hots and a cot is something to be proud of. Are you proud of music that encourges killing cops and beating and raping women? And what history are you talking about? Hundreds of years ago when there was slavery. That’s over and done, get over it. White people are done paying for that. I will keep my friends. Your attitude as well as your racism against Hispanics is part of the problem not part of the solution.

      2. Blueberry says:

        I didn’t see where you mentioned slavery. The ignorant whatnow lady is the one that can’t let go. So so sad. I feel sorry for her “black” friends.

    2. Blueberry says:

      You are the epitome of ignorance lady. I feel sorry for you.

      1. whatnow says:

        What other history could she have been talking about??????? You tell me if there is some other history I am unaware of that allows for the gutter behavior of today’s youth to be excused and admired.

  5. Supporter says:

    Now that white children are the minority in Maryland and Mississippi, will they now be eligible for minority scholarships? Probably just wishful thinking…

    1. Allen says:

      That is a very good point. If minority is truely based on numbers, than it would make sense that white children should get help with money for school. We of course all know that is not going to happen.

  6. csm827 says:

    ha-ha only the bad in your community is sensationalized. Get real please. When 99% of the time when a bank is robbed, a person is carjacked it is a black person that is responsible. I live in the “suburbs” I have neighbors that are black but the key here is they are educated, they actually went to school and didn’t moan and groan about the white man keeping them down and so on. I for one get sick of the slavery deal also, it happened, it is over, I had nothing to do with it, my grandparents had nothing to do with it get over it…… you said the key word “EDUCATED” guess what and education is easy to get but this generation wants everything handed to them and I am talking about white kids also. When you constantly have the grandmother raising kids because mom is a crack addict this is what you get!!

  7. Ex-Baltimore says:

    Blacks in the cities now know why Whites fled–criminal savages constantly preying on innocent people at every corner. My mother had sense enough in 1982 to move us out of Baltimore City and into Randallstown. We left there when the same low class fellow Blacks who drove us from the city followed us there too. I live in Owings Mills now, which is also now filling with Blacks. That would all be OK if so many of them were not there because of Section-8 and they did not bring their city crime with them. As for Hispanics? They prove time and again to be one of this countries most worthless ethnic groups with their poor educational and high end job acquisition. All they do is breed like rabbits, take on menial jobs, get on welfare, commit thefts, and form dangerous gangs that transport and sell drugs to local drug dealers. Give this county back to them? Believe me, this Black man will join a White militia to stop that! This is our country! Hispanics lost it fair and square in the Mexican/ American War. It’s not theirs!

    1. Blueberry says:

      Wow you’re ignorant. Do you know that a lot people around the world think that Whites are savages? Are you a savage? Does it bother you that people make assumptions about you and they don’t even know you? Wake up!

      1. whatnow says:

        Can’t your read. Ex-Baltimore is a BLACK MAN!!!!!!! You are so racist against white people, you just insulted a black man. Face it, Blueberry, YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION. YOU ARE THE HATER!!!!!!!! I have plenty of black friends, I have a black relative by marriage that is the sweetest person ever on the face of the earth. How many white friends do you have? Not pretend to have at work, but really have?????

      2. Blueberry says:

        Whatnot I’m White. You’re automatically assuming that I’m Black because I don’t agree with your ignorant antiquated thinking. Sure you have Black friends. Lol! Having Black friends is not an excuse to be ignorant.

  8. Blueberry says:

    It’s easy to sit behind a computer with a fake name and spew hateful garbage. I wonder, how many Blacks do these idiots REALLY know? Everyone is always complaining about how the media portrays Republicans and Whites as racists, don’t you think the media portrays Blacks in a negative light? There are more Blacks in this country doing positive things than negative. Stop this ignorance please!

  9. Chery Thyne says:

    Some times its a pain in the ass to read what people wrote but this internet site is rattling user genial ! .

  10. Susan says:

    Ex-Baltimore, you’re a joke. Nobody wants to live with you. Trying to join a militia. LMAO

    They are importing so many immigrants because business owners have given up waiting for you to develop a work ethic. Let’s see you’ve been free for 147 years and we are still waiting…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Watch & Listen LIVE