Special Report

25 Most Segregated Cities in America

Evan Comen

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10. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
> Black pop. in black neighborhoods: 41.0% (333,272)
> Black population: 29.1% (812,786)
> Black poverty rate: 17.7% (143,580)
> White poverty rate: 6.2% (99,464)

Despite being one of the first cities targeted by the Congress of Racial Equality to end racial injustice during the civil rights movement, Baltimore remains one of the most segregated cities in the country to this day. Some 41.0% of black residents live in predominantly black neighborhoods, far greater than the 16.8% of African Americans living in black neighborhoods nationwide.

Segregation can limit access to education and employment opportunities for minorities and contribute to racial disparities in urban areas. Some 18.6% of adults in majority-black neighborhoods in Baltimore have a bachelor’s degree, far less than the 42.9% college attainment rate in white neighborhoods. An estimated 23.8% of residents of black neighborhoods live in poverty, nearly five times the 5.2% poverty rate in white neighborhoods.

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9. Cleveland-Elyria, OH
> Black pop. in black neighborhoods: 42.0% (172,657)
> Black population: 19.9% (410,657)
> Black poverty rate: 32.3% (132,823)
> White poverty rate: 8.6% (124,431)

Like many Rust Belt cities, Cleveland’s current segregation patterns can be traced back to discriminatory zoning practices and racial housing covenants used during the influx of black residents in the early 20th century. Later, the outbound migration of white families moving to the suburbs in the 1960s exacerbated segregation.

Today, 42.0% of black residents in Cleveland live in predominantly black neighborhoods, far more than the 16.8% national figure. Some 39.6% of residents of predominantly black neighborhoods live in poverty, nearly six times the 6.7% poverty rate in white neighborhoods.

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8. Monroe, LA
> Black pop. in black neighborhoods: 42.5% (27,384)
> Black population: 36.0% (64,360)
> Black poverty rate: 39.7% (25,561)
> White poverty rate: 12.9% (13,775)

Monroe is one of four metro areas in Georgia to rank among the most segregated cities in America. An estimated 42.5% of black residents live in predominantly black neighborhoods, more than double the 16.8% national figure and the eighth largest share of any U.S. city.

Segregation often limits access to education and employment opportunities in minority neighborhoods and can significantly contribute to racial disparities in urban areas. In Monroe, just 73.6% of adults in majority-black neighborhoods have a high school diploma, compared to 90.5% of adults in majority-white neighborhoods — one of the largest high school attainment gaps nationwide. While 13.2% of residents in white neighborhoods live in poverty, 48.0% of residents in predominantly black neighborhoods do — also one of the largest gaps of any U.S. city.

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7. Jackson, MS
> Black pop. in black neighborhoods: 45.3% (128,925)
> Black population: 49.2% (284,499)
> Black poverty rate: 26.7% (76,058)
> White poverty rate: 8.3% (22,328)

An estimated 45.3% of black residents in Jackson live in neighborhoods that are predominantly black, more than 2.5 times the 16.8% national figure. Segregation can contribute to racial disparities in urban areas, and in Jackson, black residents are more than three times as likely to be unemployed and live in poverty as white residents.

Mississippi has a long history of state-sanctioned segregation, and it was still litigating issues related to de jure segregation and the Brown v. Board of Education decision up until several years ago. As recently as 2017, a school district in Cleveland, Mississippi — roughly two hours northwest of Jackson — conceded to integrate its two racially divided high schools and two middle schools into one high school and one middle school after 50 years of litigation.

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6. Memphis, TN-MS-AR
> Black pop. in black neighborhoods: 46.4% (291,314)
> Black population: 46.7% (627,245)
> Black poverty rate: 26.8% (167,827)
> White poverty rate: 8.5% (50,767)

An estimated 46.4% of the black population in Memphis lives in neighborhoods where more than half of the residents are also black, far more than the 16.8% national share. Segregated black neighborhoods often lack access to education and employment opportunities and are more likely to struggle with poverty than white neighborhoods in racially divided cities.

In Memphis, just 13.8% of adults in majority-black neighborhoods have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 42.4% of adults in majority-white neighborhoods — one of the largest gaps in college attainment of any city. The difference in median income between black and white households in Memphis is nearly $33,000, and 33.2% of residents of black neighborhoods live in poverty — more than five times the 6.5% poverty rate in white neighborhoods.