Special Report

The Most Segregated Cities in America

Click image to enlarge

 

10. Columbus, GA-AL
> Black pop. in Black neighborhoods: 64.6% (84,954)
> Black population: 41.2% (131,534)
> Black poverty rate: 27.2% (34,781)
> White poverty rate: 11.4% (17,156)

Columbus is one of four metro areas in Georgia to rank among the 25 most segregated cities in America. An estimated 64.6% of Black residents in the Columbus metro area live in predominantly Black neighborhoods, more than three times the 19.5% national figure.

Segregation can limit education and employment opportunities for minority communities and contribute to racial disparities in urban areas. In Columbus, the poverty rate in Black neighborhoods of 28.2% is close to three times greater than the poverty rate in majority-white neighborhoods of 12.1%.

Click image to enlarge

 

9. Montgomery, AL
> Black pop. in Black neighborhoods: 65.5% (108,868)
> Black population: 44.5% (166,402)
> Black poverty rate: 25.8% (41,227)
> White poverty rate: 9.6% (17,528)

More than 60 years after the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott became the event recognized as the beginning of the U.S. civil rights movement, Montgomery remains one of the most segregated cities in America. An estimated 65.5% of Black city residents live in majority-Black neighborhoods, compared to 19.5% of Black Americans nationwide. Also, 27.3% of residents in Black neighborhoods live in poverty, compared to 11.2% of residents in primarily white neighborhoods.

Like many segregated cities, urban renewal and highway infrastructure projects in Montgomery in the mid-20th century, such as the construction of interstates 65 and 85, displaced hundreds of Black families and cut off minority communities from the larger metro area.

Click image to enlarge

 

8. Cleveland-Elyria, OH
> Black pop. in Black neighborhoods: 67.0% (269,360)
> Black population: 19.6% (402,320)
> Black poverty rate: 31.0% (123,400)
> White poverty rate: 9.1% (135,099)

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, 67.0% of Black residents in Cleveland live in predominantly Black neighborhoods, far more than the 19.5% national figure. More than 31% of residents of predominantly Black neighborhoods live in poverty, roughly three and a half times the 9% poverty rate in majority-white neighborhoods.

Click image to enlarge

 

7. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
> Black pop. in Black neighborhoods: 69.7% (663,688)
> Black population: 22.1% (953,543)
> Black poverty rate: 27.8% (262,469)
> White poverty rate: 10.0% (296,111)

Like in many Rust Belt cities, segregation in Detroit was exacerbated after the Great Migration of the mid-20th century, as Detroit residents fought to keep new Black residents seeking auto factory jobs out of their neighborhoods. As Detroit deindustrialized during the 20th century, large waves of wealthy white families left the city center for the suburbs, draining the city’s tax base and leaving the poorer residents with fewer public services and less infrastructure. Racial tensions in Detroit culminated in major race riots in 1943 and 1967 that resulted in dozens of deaths, hundreds of injuries, and more than 1,000 buildings burned.

Today, nearly 70% of Black residents in the Detroit metro area live in neighborhoods that are predominantly Black — more than three times the 19.5% national figure.

Click image to enlarge

 

6. Monroe, LA
> Black pop. in Black neighborhoods: 72.2% (54,973)
> Black population: 37.4% (76,140)
> Black poverty rate: 41.7% (30,160)
> White poverty rate: 13.5% (15,787)

Monroe is one of six metro areas in Louisiana to rank among the most segregated cities in America. An estimated 72.2% of Black residents live in predominantly Black neighborhoods, more than double the 19.5% national figure and the sixth largest share of any U.S. metropolitan statistical area.

Segregation often limits access to education and employment opportunities in minority neighborhoods and can significantly contribute to racial disparities in urban areas. In the Monroe metropolitan area, 14.4% of residents in predominantly white neighborhoods live in poverty, while 42.8% of residents in predominantly Black neighborhoods do — one of the largest such gaps of any U.S. city.