NEW YORK, Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- A comprehensive, six-month study
conducted by BET.com (http://www.BET.com) 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 BET.com. "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 BET.com 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
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 BET.com and BET NIGHTLY NEWS. Visitors can log on
to http://www.bet.com 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 BET.com survey, along with an overview of the ranking
process and sources used:
1. Columbus, Ohio
6. Los Angeles
7. Washington, D.C.
10. Nashville/Jacksonville, Fla.
13. New Orleans
16. New York
20. St. Louis, Mo.
HOW THE CITIES WERE RANKED: For six months, BET.com 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
BET.com 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.
Voted "Best African American Community Site" for 2001 and 2002 by Yahoo!
Internet Life magazine, BET.com delivers a combination of online content and
community tailored to the unique interests, preferences and issues of African
Americans aged 18-49. BET.com 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, BET.com 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
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: BET.com, 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.
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SOURCE BET (Black Entertainment Television)