Columbus, Ohio Tops List of Best Cities for African-American Families NIGHTLY NEWS Survey Culminates 'Under One Roof' Series

Oct 03, 2002, 01:00 ET from BET (Black Entertainment Television)

    NEW YORK, Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- A comprehensive, six-month study
 conducted by ( and BET NIGHTLY NEWS in conjunction
 with their "Under One Roof" Black family series has found that Columbus, Ohio,
 is the Number 1 city for African Americans.  Findings from the study were
 released this week via the website and BET's newscast.
     The study analyzed U.S. cities with the highest African-American
 population percentages and rated them on a variety of important issues
 affecting the quality of life for Black families including: poverty and infant
 mortality rates; high school graduation rates; homeownership; median income
 and unemployment; teen pregnancy; and crime.  The cities leading the survey
 tended to have smaller African-American communities, such as Columbus which
 has a population that is 24 percent Black.
    "The uniqueness of this survey is that it was not reader or user-based, but
 a purely scientific approach that strictly analyzed data surrounding issues of
 importance to African Americans," said Retha Hill, Vice President of Content
 Development for  "This study serves as a starting point for serious
 discussions about how Black families are faring in major urban areas."
     Houston claimed the second spot in the study with Baltimore and St. Louis
 landing at the bottom of the list.  Columbus was cited for its growing
 community of diverse neighborhoods, high employment, affordable homes and,
 according to public officials, growing African-American population who care
 about the community so much you couldn't "pay them to move."
     "We've got it going on and I'm proud to say it," said Columbus Mayor
 Michael Coleman, the first African-American mayor in this Midwestern city with
 174,000 Blacks.  "This doesn't surprise me because our focus is on being the
 best.  We have the second hottest job market and we work very hard in the area
 of housing.  When people come to Columbus they love it and often come back and
 stay because they love it so much."
     Low rates of violent crime and high percentages of home ownership also
 helped boost Columbus and Houston to the top of the list.  Columbus
 also had the lowest rate of AIDS infection of any of the major cities in the
 study.  Houston, which is 25 percent Black, had the lowest rate of Black
 infant deaths and a relatively low percentage of children living in
 single-parent households (homes typically without fathers living in the
     Baltimore, with its high teen pregnancy rate and an AIDS infection rate
 second only to New York, came in 21st place.  But a positive note for
 Baltimore was its strong base of Black businesses, reflecting the economic
 strength of the Washington, D.C./Baltimore corridor according to survey
     St. Louis, which is 51 percent Black, had relatively high Black
 unemployment, teen pregnancy and crime rates in 2001.  On the bright side of
 the economic picture, about 48 percent of the 171,000 African Americans in St.
 Louis are homeowners, however.
     Sheila Dixon, president of the Baltimore City Council, was disappointed in
 how poorly her city fared. "This is somewhat embarrassing, but if this is not
 a wake-up call, I don't know what will be," she said.
     Elijah Anderson, social science professor at the University of
 Pennsylvania and author of "The Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the
 Moral Life of the Inner City," said it's easier to provide a better quality of
 life in a city whose Black population is largely middle class.
     "The cities on the bottom of the list are older, big cities with a great
 deal of urban poverty," Anderson said.  "Newer cities like Columbus and
 Houston have a higher percentage of middle-class Blacks than cities like
 Baltimore and St. Louis. In communities where you have a concentration of poor
 people you are going have a lot of urban ills."
     Publisher Donald Suggs of the "St. Louis American," one of that city's top
 African-American newspapers, said the city had almost a million residents
 40 years ago and is now down to one-third of that number. "Middle-class Blacks
 have moved to the suburbs," Suggs said.  "The Black middle class left because
 this is an aging city and they followed White middle class flight.  It was a
 domino effect, schools went down, housing was aging and the city didn't renew
     Houston Mayor Lee Brown, African-American chief of the nation's
 fourth-largest city, cited affirmative action as a major contributing factor
 to his city's enhanced quality of life.  "I'm very pleased we came out Number
 2, but we are going to work harder so that next time we'll be Number 1," he
 said.  "The good thing about this city is that when other cities were
 abandoning affirmative action, Houstonians went to the polls and supported it.
 Millions of dollars have gone to African-American firms here because of
 affirmative action."
     The study concludes a year-long series on the Black family entitled "Under
 One Roof."  The weekly series explored family issues in a cultural and
 political context on both and BET NIGHTLY NEWS.  Visitors can log on
 to for a complete analysis of the study as well as an
 interactive element that allows visitors to rank the cities themselves.
     The following is a list of the top 20 cities for African Americans, as
 determined by the survey, along with an overview of the ranking
 process and sources used:
      1. Columbus, Ohio
      2. Houston
      3. Boston
      4. Charlotte
      5. Indianapolis
      6. Los Angeles
      7. Washington, D.C.
      8. Oakland
      9. Philadelphia
     10. Nashville/Jacksonville, Fla.
     11. Dallas
     12. Detroit
     13. New Orleans
     14. Memphis
     15. Cleveland
     16. New York
     17. Atlanta
     18. Chicago/Milwaukee
     19. Baltimore
     20. St. Louis, Mo.
     HOW THE CITIES WERE RANKED: For six months, compiled data on
 African Americans in those U.S. cities with the largest Black populations.**
 The data, for African Americans specifically, included infant mortality, high
 school graduation, median income, homeownership, unemployment and businesses
 ownership. Rates of poverty and AIDS infection, the percentage of children in
 single parent, typically fatherless households, teen pregnancy, an economic
 segregation index and violent and property crimes for each city were also
 collected.  The data used represents statistics for the traditionally defined
 cities and, in some cases, what the census bureau calls "Metropolitan
 Statistical Areas," which include core urban areas and their surrounding
 urbanized areas.  Each set of data was scored and weighted to determine how
 each city ranked on each of the above-mentioned set of criteria. Studies show
 that economic opportunities for Blacks tend to improve when African Americans
 are in the mayor's office so each city also was given a score for political
 representation based on whether or not they have a Black mayor.  The data were
 divided into seven categories, which were scored and weighted to get an
 overall score for each city.  A city's score determined its place/rank on the list.   Note:  **Birmingham, Ala., excluded for insufficient data.

SOURCES: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Kids Count Data Book," "County and City Data Book 2000," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau Economic Census, Census 2000 Supplementary Survey, The Mumford Center, Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Washington Post Market Analyses. ABOUT BET.COM Voted "Best African American Community Site" for 2001 and 2002 by Yahoo! Internet Life magazine, delivers a combination of online content and community tailored to the unique interests, preferences and issues of African Americans aged 18-49. provides fresh, original and licensed content daily via content channels covering numerous issues such as news, sports, health, careers, money, music, entertainment, romance, food and more. Additionally, offers stimulating communities for professionals, women, families, college students and urbanites, as well as the latest communication features to encourage African Americans of all ages and interests to meet online daily. ABOUT BET BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, is the nation's leading television network providing quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs programming for the African-American audience. The BET Network reaches more than 74 million households according to Nielsen media research. BET is a dominant consumer brand in the urban marketplace with a diverse group of branded businesses:, the Number 1 internet portal for African Americans; BET Digital Networks - BET Jazz, BET Gospel and BET Hip-Hop, a new alternative for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Uptown, BET's urban satellite radio channel on the XM Satellite Radio service; BET Event Productions, specializing in a full range of event production services, including event management, venue selection, talent recruitment, sound, lighting and stage production; and BET Books, the nation's leading publisher of African American-themed romance novels under the Arabesque Books label. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here

SOURCE BET (Black Entertainment Television)