How Urbanization has Affected African American Communities

Urbanization is considered the process through which rural populations turn into urban residents. The main elements of urbanization are the change in the labor force from the agricultural to industrializations sector and the changing of population distribution from the rural areas to more compact cities or towns which is followed by a change in lifestyle. In the United States after World War II, there was a mass exodus of African Americans from the rural South to urban centers in other regions for work opportunities (Collins, 2021). Over the years, The Great Migration has continued and influenced the African American communities in various ways.

The process of urbanization has attracted African Americans from rural areas in search of employment. The African Americans have been able to fill the low-skilled labor which is substantial for them. The level of education among African American communities is on the rise changing their socioeconomic status. However, the rapid growth of urban areas has left many African Americans without adequate housing or sanitation, causing widespread poverty and health issues among the population (Tammaru et al., 2020). The houses they receive are typically small and low quality, leaving them open to the elements without proper insulation or roofing (Quick and Kahlenberg, 2019). In addition, many businesses practice discrimination against blacks when hiring workers or selling goods they need for survival, limiting economic opportunities for them as well.

The rapid influx into the cities has meant an increased demand for public services such as education and healthcare. Unfortunately, these systems are not equipped to handle this increase and thus a growing gap between the needs of the community and what it received from its government. The result has been that African Americans in these areas have had a lower standard of living than their rural counterparts, being forced into crowded slums where poverty and disease ran rampant (Massey and Tannen, 2018).

In summation, the movement of African Americans into cities has led to significant changes in their neighborhoods. While some improvements can be seen, such as an increase in employment and education levels for the entire population, there is also evidence that suggests these changes have led to poverty, inadequate housing, segregation, and low standards of living.




Collins, W. J. (2021). The Great Migration of Black Americans from the US South: A guide and interpretation. Explorations in Economic History80, 101382.

Massey, D. S., & Tannen, J. (2018). Suburbanization and segregation in the United States: 1970–2010. Ethnic and racial studies41(9), 1594-1611.

Quick, K., & Kahlenberg, R. (2019). Attacking the black-white opportunity gap that comes from residential segregation. The Century Foundation: New York, NY, USA.

Tammaru, T., Marcin´ Czak, S., Aunap, R., van Ham, M., & Janssen, H. (2020). Relationship between income inequality and residential segregation of socioeconomic groups. Regional Studies54(4), 450-461.

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