Atlanta’s Suburban ‘Black Mecca’ and The Racialized Geography of Poverty

Authors: Steven Holloway*, University Of Georgia, Katherine Hankins, Georgia State University
Topics: Urban Geography, Ethnicity and Race, Population Geography
Keywords: Atlanta, Black Mecca, Suburbs, Suburbanization of Poverty
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Between 1990 and 2010, two-thirds of the almost one-million new black residents of Atlanta’s metropolitan area moved into suburbs outside of the historic urban core. Based on our argument that the emergence of Atlanta as a ‘black mecca’ was and still is a fundamentally suburban phenomenon, this paper examines the degree to which Atlanta’s large and growing black suburbs, especially those that became home to the middle- and upper-class black elites have experienced increases in poverty. Our concern derives from the growing policy concern with the ‘suburbanization of poverty,’ exemplified by the Brookings Institution. A weakness of this literature is its inattention to the fragmented racialized geographies of metropolitan spaces. Our analysis integrates an understanding of Atlanta as suburban ‘black mecca’ with changes in the racialized geographies of suburban poverty over recent decades. We find that despite — and perhaps because of — the vigorous promotion of elite black suburban spaces through home ownership, the impacts of the housing finance crises were felt particularly acutely in these same suburban spaces, illustrating their vulnerability.

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