Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reverse Migration

My Siblings and parents all now reside in the South. Mainly in Texas. My eldest Sister and her husband moved from Detroit, Michigan to San Antonio, Texas in October of 2011.  Everyone I speak to about retirement are making plans to migrate South.

My sister and her husband are featured in the article by Denene Millner  In EBONYs November 2011 issue, on the “Great Reverse Migration” – why many African Americans are moving back to the south in record numbers.

My husband and I just moved from the state of Michigan to the state of Alabama on July 8, 2012. I retired from my job of 25 years with a major airline to farm grapes on 99 acres of land that's been in the family for 100 yrs. I moved over 1,300 books to storage until our renovated farmhouse is completed. I pray that my treasures (books) are safe from bugs, humidity and moisture.

Amongst these books is The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. A powerful book that is rich with history, facts and personal memoirs.

The "reverse migration" of African Americans from the North to the South, a trend that was starkly reflected in the 2010 U.S. Census data. According to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, between 2000 and 2009, most of the big metro areas with the largest growth in the African-American population were in the South. "Economic progress, cultural ties and an emerging black middle class have driven greater numbers of blacks to prosperous Southern metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Raleigh," according to analysis by William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, with losses in states such as Illinois and Michigan.

Of course, African Americans aren't the only ones heading south. But this trend is a definite shift in the pattern for most of the 20th century, when, from World War I to the 1970s, African Americans left the South for the North, Midwest and West in search of economic opportunity and a relief from racial violence and discrimination. The period is detailed in Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration.

A century ago, 90 percent of African-Americans lived in the American South – and had for a long, hard time. With the civil rights era and the postwar industrial boom, American blacks went north in huge numbers.

They called it the Great Migration. Chicago, Detroit and more exploded with African-American populations and culture. Now, it’s the great reversal.

New census numbers show African-Americans headed South again. The highest percentage now live in the South since 1960. It’s a big, remarkable shift. This hour On Point: African-Americans, headed south, again.
- Tom Ashbrook

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