Today, more than half of the US Black population lives in the South. This concentration of Black Americans is the latest stage of a long-term trend that started in the 1970s, when the number of Black people living in southern states began to grow again after decades of decreasing numbers during the Great Migration.

The Black South is a rich source of cultural traditions in music, religion, cuisine, and other fields, with widespread national and global influence. But it is also deeply challenged by a history of structural racism and accompanying public- and private-sector disinvestment in education, health, and economic development. Southern states have been neglected by philanthropy as well, which invests less than 3 percent of its national expenditures in the region.

(The US Census Bureau’s definition of the South, used throughout this blog post, includes Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC.)

For Black children, the enduring effects of systematic disinvestment, combined with historic discriminatory policies and institutional practices, have significantly reduced opportunities for healthy development and have resulted in markedly different levels of well-being as young adults. These negative effects have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By increasing its investments in southern communities and tackling the structural, economic, and social forces that create these inequitable outcomes, philanthropy can significantly contribute to reducing inequality for Black children and young adults.

Read the full article about disparities for Black children by Faith Mitchell at Urban Institute.