Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Reversal of the Great Migration

If you haven't already used up your June allotment of free articles on The New York Times website, you might find this article interesting.  It's entitled "For New Life, Blacks in City Head South."  An excerpt:

Life has gone full circle,” said Ms. Wilkins, whose grandmother was born amid the cotton fields of North Carolina and moved to Queens in the 1950s.

“My grandmother’s generation left the South and came to the North to escape segregation and racism,” she said. “Now, I am going back because New York has become like the old South in its racial attitudes.”

Many black New Yorkers who are already in the South say they have little desire to return to the city, even though they get wistful at the mention of the subways or Harlem nights.

Danitta Ross, 39, a real estate broker who used to live in Queens, said she moved to Atlanta four years ago after her company, responding to the surge in black New Yorkers moving south, began offering relocation seminars. She helped organize them, and became intrigued.

Ms. Ross said she had grown up hearing stories at the dinner table about segregation. She said the Atlanta she discovered was a cosmopolitan place of classical music concerts, interracial marriage and opulent houses owned by black people.

A single mother, she said that for $150,000, she was buying a seven-room house, with a three-car garage, on a nice plot of land.

Ms. Ross said she had experienced some culture shock in the South, and had been surprised to find that blacks tended to self-segregate, even in affluent neighborhoods.

She said that the South — not New York — was now home.

“People in Georgia have a different mind-set and life is more relaxed and comfortable here,” she said. “There is just a lot more opportunity.”

I'm a bit suprised by this trend, given that unemployment in Georgia, particuarly among blacks, remains very high.  But, cost of living and pace of life do account for a great deal.  Still, it's a interesting reversal of a very long trend of northern migration.

Jamie Baker Roskie

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