African Americans in the South are shunning city life for the suburbs at the highest levels in decades, rapidly integrating large metropolitan areas that were historically divided between inner-city blacks and suburban whites.
Census figures also show that Latino population growth for the first time outpaced that of blacks and whites in most of the South, adding to the region's racial and ethnic mix.
The share of blacks in large metropolitan areas who opted to live in the suburbs climbed to 58% in the South, compared with 41% for the rest of the U.S., according to census estimates. That's up from 52% in 2000 and represents the highest share of suburban blacks in the South since the Civil Rights Act passed in the 1960s.
The South also had major gains in neighborhood integration between blacks and whites. Thirty-two of the region's 38 largest metro areas made such gains since 2000, according to a commonly used demographic index. The measure, known as the segregation index, tracks the degree to which racial groups are evenly spread among neighborhoods. Topping the list were rapidly diversifying metro areas in central Florida, as well in Georgia, Texas and Tennessee.
Even in San Diego, where the black population represents only about 6 percent of the total, the trend has been toward suburbanization, and indeed leaving for other parts of the United States. I touched on these issues last night on "San Diego Week" on KPBS-TV.