Special Report

Worst Voting Districts for Black Americans

It has been 150 years since the 15th Amendment guaranteed Black American men the right to vote. Yet in that time, people of color have consistently faced discrimination and inequality — much of which persists to this day.

Nearly a quarter of Black Americans live below the poverty line, more than double the share of white Americans. The median income among Black households is just over $40,000, compared to nearly $64,000 for white households. According to the latest Census data, the unemployment rate for Black Americans is over 10%, while the white unemployment rate is less than 5%. Black Americans are also less likely to finish high school and go to college and less likely to own a home compared to white Americans.

While these inequalities are pervasive across the country, there are certain parts of the country where the differences in economic and educational outcomes between Black and white Americans are even more pronounced.

To determine the 30 worst congressional districts for Black Americans, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to create an index of six measures to assess race-based gaps in socioeconomic outcomes in each of the nation’s congressional districts. Creating the index in this way ensures that districts are ranked on the socioeconomic gaps between Black and white residents rather than the overall socioeconomic status.

Most of the worst congressional districts for Black Americans are concentrated in the eastern part of the country. Arkansas, Louisiana, and Minnesota, are the only states home to districts on this list that are west of the Mississippi River. Of the 30 districts on this list, 13 are in the Midwest, 11 are in the South, and six are in the Northeast.

In many of these areas, the wide socioeconomic disparities are due in part to past discriminatory practices like redlining and exclusionary housing covenants that effectively segregated cities. Though these practices have since been outlawed in the mid-20th century, they restricted economic mobility and entrenched inequality for years to come.

These districts tend to cluster in certain states as well. Illinois has more districts on this list than any other state, with five. Ohio and Louisiana each have four congressional districts on this list. There does not appear to be a common political leaning among these 30 districts as 16 are represented by Democrats in the House of Representatives, while 14 are represented by Republicans.

The worst districts for Black Americans tend to be in economically depressed areas as 24 of the 30 districts have a lower median household income than the overall U.S. median of $60,293. In each district on this list, the typical Black household earns tens of thousands of dollars less per year than the typical white household. These are America’s poorest cities.

In addition to the challenging socioeconomic circumstances in these areas, many are in states with numerous active hate groups. There were nearly 1,000 active groups as of 2019, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. These are the states with the most hate groups per capita.

Click here to see the worst voting districts for Black Americans.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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