The 'New Great Migration' Picks Up Pace

Recent American Community Survey data solidifies an underappreciated pattern of migration in the United States: a reversal of the Great Migration of the 20th century, when an estimate 5 million Black Americans left the South.

Read Time: 2 minutes

September 15, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Data from the Census Bureau’s 5-Year American Community Survey, released in March 2020, provides additional evidence of a great reversal in migration patterns among Black Americans. In the 21st century, Black Americans are moving in massive numbers back to the South—a reversal of the Great Migration that took place in the early decades of the 20th century.

The “New Great Migration” isn’t breaking news, however. Planetizen picked up analysis of the reversal of the Great Migration in 2011, but the pattern goes back further than that, to the 1970s—although the pace of Black American’s southward migration has increased from a trickle to a “virtual evacuation,” according to analysis by William Frey for the Brookings Institution. The effects of the “New Great Migration” are visible in the growth of the “New South,” especially in the states of Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina, as well as the metropolitan regions such as Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston.

“[A]lthough these areas are simultaneously in the midst of new immigrant growth and white in-migration, the continuing ‘New Great Migration’ has served to give Black Americans a large—and in many cases, dominant—presence in most parts of America’s South,” writes Frey.

An entire history of the migration patterns of Black Americans back to the early decades of the Great Migration is available at the link below. Also included are infographics illustrating the data and maps behind the “New Great Migration.”

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