In 1926, Americans celebrated the first Black History Week. Fifty years later, the event was expanded to Black History Month.
For Georgians, Black History Month has a special significance. As the home state of Martin Luther King Jr. and as home to many other famous black Americans, Georgia has a rich African-American heritage.
Georgia also has one of the largest black populations in the country. In 2008, blacks comprised 31 percent of the state’s population. Between July 1, 2007 and July 1, 2008, Georgia’s black population increased by 67,000 ¬– the largest increase in the nation. Georgia is also one of 24 states in which blacks are the largest minority groups.
The following are Black History Month facts and figures provided by the United States Census Bureau:
• Black Americans comprised 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population in 2008.
• By July 1, 2050, blacks will constitute 15 percent of the nation’s total population.
• At least 18 states have a black population of at least one million. Those states are New York, Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
• Mississippi has the highest percentage of black residents at 38 percent.
• Claiborne County, Miss. has the largest percent of population that is black (84.4 percent) among counties with total populations of at least 10,000. All of the 77 majority black counties are in the South.
• As of July 1, 2008, 30 percent of the black population was younger than 18 years of age. Eight percent of the black population was 65 or older.
• In 2008, there were 2.3 million black military veterans.
• In 2008, 83 percent of blacks 25 and older had at least a high school diploma. Twenty percent held a bachelor’s degree.
• 1.4 million blacks 25 and older held an advanced degree in 2008 compared to 857,000 in 1998. In the fall of 2008, 2.5 million black students were enrolled in college, more than double the number from 15 years earlier.
• The number of black voters increased by 2.1 million between the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. Black voters totaled 16.1 million out of 131.1 million total voters.
• In the 2008 presidential election, 55 percent of black 18 to 24 year olds voted – an eight percent increase from 2004. Overall, 65 percent of black citizens cast ballots.
• The average median income of black households was $34,218 in 2008, a decline of 2.8 percent from 2007.
• The poverty rate for black Americans is 24.7 percent.
• Just over 19 percent of blacks lack health insurance.
• Nationally, 46 percent of homeowners are black.
• Of blacks 16 years of age and older, 27 percent work in management, professional and related occupations.
• Black owned businesses generated $88.6 billion in revenues in 2002. Black owner firms accounted for five percent of all non-farm businesses in the United States.
• New York had the greatest number of black owned firms in 2002 with 129,329.
• In 2002, 10,716 black owned firms operated with receipts of $1 million or more. There were also a total of 969 black owned firms with 100 or more employees.