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A 20-Point Plan to Shrink Black Atlanta

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Black Atlanta has undergone a dramatic demographic shift over the past four decades even though the city's overall population has remained somewhat constant.   Many of these trends are detailed in The Black Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century, a book I edited in 2007. Atlanta's population grew from 467,455 in 1960 to 496,973 in 1970 -- with the Atlanta's black share increasing from 39.9 percent to 51.3 percent.   During 1980-1990, the city's population decreased from 425,022 to 394,017 -- while the black share of Atlanta's population jumped from 66.6 percent to 67.1 percent. The 2000-2010 decade saw Atlanta growing from 416,474 to 420,003, while the black share of the city continued to decline, from 61.4 percent to 54.0 percent.

The 2010 census also revealed a major exodus of blacks from Atlanta over the previous decade, with the black population falling by 29,746 people.   Atlanta's black population loss occurred at the same time blacks in the metro area grew by 40 percent, an addition of 490,982.

The lion's share of blacks who migrated to Metro Atlanta settled in the suburbs -- not the city -- a trend unlike the one that gave the city a black majority and its first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, elected in the 1973.   Metro Atlanta now has the second largest black population of all U.S. metropolitan regions, surpassing Chicago, and just behind New York.

Clearly, Atlanta, often affectionately tagged the "Black Mecca" of the South, is being depopulated of its black citizens. This demographic transition is not an overnight phenomenon. It is important to note that this black exodus took shape during an era of Black mayors and majority black city councils.   The impetus for this demographic shift can be summarized in the following 20 trends:

1. The 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games--served as a "shot of adrenaline" that kicked off the black depopulation trend;

2. Demolition of all public housing in the city;

3. Overt hostility directed at the poor and homeless population;

4. Heightened class warfare between black "elites" and black "underclass;"

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5. Squandering of Atlanta Empowerment Zone funds designed to revitalize low-wealth minority neighborhoods;

6. Diverting public funds into private ventures and away from the city's core black neighborhoods;

7. Dismantling of the public health safety-net hospital--privatization of Grady Hospital;

8. Failing Atlanta Public Schools;

9. Defunding the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority or MARTA;

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10. Racial redlining and disinvestment by banks, mortgage firms, insurance companies, and commercial enterprises;

11. Predatory mortgage lending;

12. Gentrification and displacement in urban core neighborhoods;

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Robert D. Bullard is Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston. His most recent book is entitled "The Wrong Complexion for Protection: How the Government Response to Disaster Endangers (more...)

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