Following a national trend, demographic trends in Louisville indicate that more African-Americans are leaving the urban core and moving to the suburbs.
The city’s black population grew 18 percent over the past decade to 154,246, according to census figures analyzed by the Courier-Journal. However, the growth was not in the historically black neighborhoods in the West End.
From the C-J:
…while demographers say tracts in western Louisville saw large declines due to people losing their homes and leaving and older residents not being replaced with younger generations.
Two of the areas with the biggest losses were at the edge of the Portland and Shawnee neighborhoods, where two tracts bounded by 24th, Market, 38th and Bank streets lost 1,100 people, or about 18 percent of the 2000 population.
In one of the tracts where boarded-up houses sit among tidy bungalows, 27 percent of all homes were vacant.
As the country’s black population begins to diversify and spread outside inner-cities, there’s a twofold concern.
Civil rights groups such as the National Urban League believe the political clout of African-Americans could be diluted as move into historically white districts. That certainly is pertinent to Louisville, as the Metro Council begins to discuss redistricting, where minority representation is a primary concern.
There’s also a concern about blacks who remain in urban enclaves and live in areas of concentrated crime, poverty and other social ills.
It’s often said that the lack of “black role models” (i.e. middle-class) living side-by-side poorer residents in the post-Jim Crow era is a culprit of the urban decay. It’s a debatable and rather simplistic point of view, but one that is still popular in the black community that the newspaper ran without contention.
From the C-J:
“As bad as segregation was—and it was an evil that needed to be eradicated—at least the poor African Americans did come into contract with African Americans who are achievers and professionals,” the Rev. Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church, which Cosby said.
“And there is a possibility, unless we intentionally have a strategy to reach those who are at the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder, that the poorest among us can be further socially isolated.”