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The Most Segregated Cities In America: Is Your City On The List?


Legally, segregation is over. But ask anyone who lives in cities like East New York or in Chicago’s Garfield Park, and they’ll tell you that segregation is alive and well.

Virtually every city in America has its black areas, the remnants of redlining and restrictive covenants, and despite the pains of gentrification, a new report by 24/7 Wall Street suggests that segregation isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The report’s authors looked at cities across the Union, at their black populations and at the percentage of that population that lives in majority-black neighborhoods (neighborhoods where at least 4 out 5 residents are black).

What’s the most segregated city in the United States? If you’re thinking one in the South, you’re thinking wrong.

Turns out, it’s Detroit, Michigan. Almost a quarter of Detroit is black. And a full 55.3 percent of its black citizens live in majority-black neighborhoods.

Coming in at a close number two is Chicago, a city that was once America’s black metropolis. 50 percent of all black Chicagoans live in majority black neighborhoods, most on the city’s West and South Sides.

Rounding out the top three is Jackson, Mississippi, where 48.5 percent of the population is black, and 47.7 percent of that population lives in all majority neighborhoods.

The study’s authors also tracked poverty rates in each of the cities on their list, and compared incomes of black families to those of white families.

Unsurprisingly, they found that black families tend to make less than white families.

They also discovered that urban whites have almost no experience with poverty — 1.4 percent of America’s white, urban population was found to live in extremely poor neighborhoods; 12.4 percent of urban blacks were found to live in the same.

Extreme poverty is usually defined as living on less than $2 a day; the poverty line in the United States is currently at $24,600 per year for a family of four.

When looking at poverty in general, rather than extreme poverty, authors found that an average of 25 percent of black citizens live in poverty, compared to nine percent of whites, and that in some cities, the percentage of black people living in poverty can go up to 33 percent.

Segregation coupled with high poverty levels lead to poor education outcomes, according to the authors, who note that lower property taxes in poorer and segregated black communities often translate to less funding for schools.

If you are curious where your city falls, the full list along with the percentage of black people living in majority black neighborhoods is below:

  1. Detroit, Michigan (55.3 percent)
  2. Chicago, Illinois (50.1 percent)
  3. Jackson, Mississippi (47.7 percent)
  4. Memphis, Tennessee (46.4 percent)
  5. Cleveland, Ohio (45.4 percent)
  6. New Orleans, Louisiana (43.1)
  7. Buffalo, New York (43 percent)
  8. Baltimore, Maryland (41.6 percent)
  9. Birmingham, Alabama (39.4 percent)
  10. Saint Louis, Missouri (39.3 percent)
  11. Milwaukee, Wisconsin (36.1 percent)
  12. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (32.3 percent)
  13. Baton Rouge, Louisiana (31.7 percent)
  14. Atlanta, Georgia (31.3 percent)
  15. Dayton, Ohio (29.6 percent)
  16. Washington, D.C. (29.1 percent)
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Phyllis Coley
Phyllis D. Coley is CEO/Publisher of Spectacular Magazine and Host of Spectacular Magazine Radio Show. With a B.A. in English from NCCU, the Durham native began her professional career as Promotions/Marketing Director for New York City’s WKTU-FM. While at the radio station, Coley discovered the rap group Kid ‘n Play and managed them for five years, guiding their music and movie careers to success. Moving back to Durham, Coley produced a nationally syndicated television show, The Electric Factory, while working as News Director for FOXY 107/104. In April 2002, recognizing a void in highlighting the achievements of African Americans, she started her own business publishing ACE Magazine. Coley launched Spectacular Magazine in November 2004. Recognizing the lack of pertinent and truthful information, Coley began Spectacular Magazine Radio Show in March 2009. Coley is the organizer of Durham's Annual MLK/Black History Month Parade and the Annual North Carolina Juneteenth Celebration. She currently serves on Central Children’s Home Board of Directors, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Advisors, as Immediate Past Secretary of the Durham Rotary Club Board of Directors and is one of the founding members of the Triangle United Way’s African American Leadership Initiative.

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