History of African Americans in Philadelphia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This article documents the history of the African-Americans in Philadelphia.

Recent 1999 estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau put the total number of people living in Philadelphia who identify as Black or African-American at 689,927, comprising 43.6% of the total population of the city.[1]


Published in 1899 by the University of Pennsylvania and conducted by W. E. B. Du Bois, The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study was the first sociological race study of the African American community in the United States.[2] The aim of the social study was to identify "The Negro Problems of Philadelphia," the problems facing black communities not only in Philadelphia, but all over the country as well.[3] The study focused on Philadelphia's Seventh Ward (currently Center City Philadelphia) and the socioeconomic conditions of black churches, businesses and homes within the neighborhood. Using statistics Du Bois created from his survey data, Du Bois compared the occupation, income, education, family size, health, drug use, criminal activity and suffrage of black and white residents living in the Seventh Ward and to Philadelphia's other wards.[4] Du Bois used statistical evidence to highlight the socioeconomic inequalities the black community faced and make the black community's suffrage known to whites. In turn, he disproved stereotypes surrounding the black community which were cited as the sources of "The Negro Problem."[4]


By 1976 many blacks were moving to Wynnefield, with many originating from Cobbs Creek and Overbrook; the new residents of Wynnefield had recently become middle class.[5]

Circa 1976 many African-Americans resided in Powelton Village. The majority originated from other states and held professional positions, including artists, graduate students, musicians, teachers, and writers.[5]

Circa 1961 Society Hill was a majority black and low income neighborhood, but by 1976 it became gentrified and mostly White with the remaining black population residing in about three or four high-rise apartment buildings with high rents. Black Enterprise wrote that a possible reason why wealthier blacks opted not to move to Society Hill was "Unpleasant memories of the old neighborhood".[5]


The African American Museum in Philadelphia is located in Center City.


The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, established in 1792, was the first house of worship designated for black people in the United States. While the St. George's United Methodist Church had initially allowed black worshipers in the main area, its black worshipers left after the church moved them to the gallery area by 1787.[6]


In 1976 66% of all students of the School District of Philadelphia were black; this number was proportionally high since whites of all economic backgrounds had a tendency to use private schools. Wealthier blacks chose not to use private schools because their neighborhoods were assigned to higher quality public schools.[5]

Notable residents[edit]



  1. ^ "American FactFinder - Results". Archived from the original on 2015-01-04.
  2. ^ Gerald, Horne (2009-11-12). W.E.B. Du Bois : a biography. Santa Barbara. ISBN 978-0313349805. OCLC 496518307.
  3. ^ "Philadelphia Negro - Chapter 2 - W.E.B. DuBois". media.pfeiffer.edu. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  4. ^ a b "W.E.B. DuBois - The Philadelphia Negro - Chapter 1". media.pfeiffer.edu. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  5. ^ a b c d "Blacks in Philadelphia." p. 44.
  6. ^ "Blacks in Philadelphia." p. 36.