Are Black People Leaving Oakland and the Bay Area?

Are Black People Leaving Oakland and the Bay Area?


Oakland has long been known as a city comprised mostly of African Americans.  It has even been termed the “Chocolate City,” a nickname dubbed upon the city by Parliament Funkadelic’s George Clinton.  As time passes however, a movement appears to be afoot — a sort of Black flight may be taking place.

“State of Blacks in the Bay,” a study commissioned by Blacks in Bay Area Philanthropy (BIBAP) and developed by Urban Strategies Council, an organization whose goal is to “lead distressed, urban-core residential communities and low-income families toward positive social and economic mobility,” raises and addresses two main questions with respect to the migration of Blacks in and around the Bay Area:

  1. Where did African-Americans reside in the Bay Area in 2000 and what changes occurred through 2008?
  2. What cities and neighborhoods had the highest concentration of African-Americans in 2000 and 2008?

According to the BIABP study, in looking at nine counties in the Bay Area:

At a county level, Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin all experienced declines in the proportion of Blacks among their populations, while the other five counties saw a rise in Black population proportions.  Alameda County—with the largest Black population—experienced a drop of eight percent or 17,141 Black persons.

From 2000 through 2008, Oakland remained the city with the largest Black population, although there was a 25% decrease in this population over this time period. San Francisco had the second largest Black population, followed by Richmond; these cities saw reductions in their Black populations of 17.6% and 18.6%, respectively.

As the Bay Area stumbles and tiptoes through changing political climates and social and economic upheaval, the African American population of Oakland has declined.

The BIABP study concluded by stating that “these shifts have important implications for government, business, service providers, civic organizations and philanthropy and how they work to ensure continued opportunities for African-Americans and improvements in the conditions of African-American neighborhoods and the outcomes experienced by African-American residents and families.”

Absent additional efforts in these areas, the Oakland/Bay Area may continue to witness a decline in its Black population.