Blacks Return 'Home' to the South

The Barriere family moved to Atlanta in the 1990s. (NPR)

Times have changed since roughly 6 million African Americans migrated north during the 20th century, fleeing racial hatred in the South and seeking employment in places like Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee. Now, NPR reports, many blacks are returning to the South — and especially to Georgia.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are nearly 3 million non-Hispanic black Americans living in Georgia, meaning that Georgia now has the largest population of non-Hispanic blacks for the first time since the 1950s.


NPR's Alex Kellog profiled a family that personifies this trend. Eliska and Welmon Barriere Sr., originally from New Orleans, moved to Milwaukee in 1962. They lived there with their whole family in the early 1990s, when the family began to head to Georgia. Now they have 18 family members in Atlanta and its suburbs.

They say they were drawn in by the weather, the affordable housing and good jobs. Atlanta's reputation as a mecca for black professionals also proved to be a welcome change. "Go to nice restaurants, go to events and stuff, and you just see so many black people. That wasn't the case in Wisconsin," Karen Barriere says.

But evidently, "you just see so many black people" isn't a huge draw for everyone. In fact, as the city's suburbs get blacker, Atlanta itself is gentrifying — and that means many key parts of town are getting whiter. When it comes to race, geography and the characteristics of "home," the cycle of change continues.

Read more and listen to the full story at NPR.

In other news: Is This Dove Ad Racist? 

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