The Best Places to Live for African Americans

by Brooke Hart

Black Enterprise magazine created a survey to identify cities that African-Americans prefer living in. The survey consisted of several key factors such as average income, economic growth indicators, cost of living, housing and other variables.

No. 5: Memphis, Tenn.

In the 1970's and 1980's, the city of Memphis, Tennessee had a high crime rate that led businesses to move and African-Americans migrating to cities such as, Dallas, Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina and a better quality of living. Over the past 15 years, Memphis has reestablished itself as one of the premier destinations for African-Americans to work and live. Memphis has a vibrant black community, especially in fine arts. Memphis is home of the world famous Stax Records where Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes and Booker T and the MG’s recorded some of the worlds greatest “soul” music. Memphis is the “world hub” of the FedEx corporation. When FedEx created it's "world hub" headquarters, African-Americans were targeted for jobs at the executive and management levels. FedEx has been recognized by Fortune as one of the “50 Best Companies for Minorities.” "FedEx Express is the second largest delivery company in the country with about $24.7 billion in revenues. Of its 116,369 employees, a little less than half--50,326--are ethnic minorities, including 34,479 African Americans. FedEx Express is also relatively strong in board representation with two black board members out of 13 total. The company did show strength in senior management representation: 15 of its 74 senior managers are ethnic minorities. Eight of those minorities are African Americans, including two who appeared on our list of "75 Most Powerful Blacks in Corporate America." Even though the average median household income in Memphis is low ($36,000), that cost is offset by an affordable housing market (the average home costs $115,000) and low cost of living index.

No. 4: Charlotte, N.C.

In the early 1990's, Many African-Americans moved to Charlotte to experience a rural suburbia type of lifestyle. For those who did not want to live in big fast paced cities such as Atlanta, Philadelphia or Chicago, Charlotte became a viable option. Out of the 540,828 people that live in Charlotte, there are only 177,000 African-Americans. What makes Charlotte a great place for African-Americans is a low cost of living index, great schools and suburban lifestyle. The city is not too big nor too small. During the past 25 years, key industries such as technology and manufacturing plants have moved into Charlotte, providing jobs and employment opportunities. During the next few years, Charlotte’s employment index is projected to grow at a rate of 18.7 percent.

No. 3: Atlanta

Georgia's largest city has a 62 percent African-American population. The survey conducted by Black Enterprise states “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 159,830 black people moved to Atlanta between 1990 and 1996, more than moved to any other U.S. city.” Atlanta has many black businesses and is rated second in the nation in terms of black business development and sustainability. Atlanta also has many African-American cultural activities and festivities throughout the year. Atlanta’s future job growth is expect to be at 24 percent and the African-American unemployment rate just 5.5 percent.

No. 2: Washington, D.C.

African-Americans comprise 60 percent of the total population of the nation's capital. Blacks living in Washington D.C. earn the highest average income of the cities in the Black Enterprise list. Black households earn more than $50,000 per year and that number continues to grow. The Washington D.C. area has a great transportation system that provides access to events, cultural affairs and other neighborhoods. The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Statistical Area also includes Arlington, Va., an adjacent city fast becoming a favorite destination of African-Americans. Arlington is attractive because of its quiet suburbs, good school system and peaceful lifestyle.

No. 1: Houston

African-Americans make up 26 percent of the 1,960,000 central city population in the city of Houston (according to the 2000 Census figures). The average black household income is low ($27,500) and only 13 percent of African-Americans there make more than $50,000 a year. But future job growth is projected at 17.8 percent and the Texas city has an abundance of African-American businesses thanks to its emphasis in minority small business development. Houston also has 11 Fortune 500 companies. Houston is a great destination for African-Americans because of affordable housing initiatives, public schools and culture. Houston has six professional sports teams, a vibrant nightlife and activities for the whole family. Houston is also a major destination for off Broadway plays, jazz concerts and festivals.

About the Author

Brooke Hart has been writing since she learned how to read, focusing on developing stories, poems and screen plays. She continued this with studies in English, receiving a Bachelors and creative writing to obtain a Masters degree. She has been writing for over five years with her own business, Orion Information Services.