Chicago has long been one of the major hubs for Black culture – Chicago blues, Richard Wright, and – yes – Barack Obama are all products of the Windy City. Recently, however, the wind has been blowing Blacks away from the shores of Lake Michigan towards greener pastures in the South and into the suburbs. Lynette Holloway from The Root describes the trend as possibly “irreversible”:
“Today’s migration trend may be irreversible,” Harrison, senior research scientist at the Office of Research Regulatory Compliance at Howard University, told The Root. “Industries have changed, and a lot of those jobs aren’t coming back to the Midwest.” He said it’s cheaper for companies to open factories in right-to-work states (those that don’t compel employees in unionized workplaces to join the unions) in the South.Earlier this year, the U.S. Census Bureau released statistics for 2010 showing that Chicago lost more than 180,000 African-American residents, causing the population to fall to 1.6 million, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.In addition to migrating down South, black Chicagoans are also heading for the suburbs, including Cook County’s Dolton, Ill. Over the last decade, blacks who achieved a certain amount of success before the economic decline began moving to the suburbs from the city in search of safer communities and better housing. They also spread to University Park and Orland Park, both in Will County, with Orland Park straddling Cook County. Will County, with a population of 677,560, saw its overall population increase 34.9 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
Until blue northern cities learn to attract the jobs required to build a stable black middle class, it’s going to be hard to find seats on that crowded midnight train to Georgia.