From the Left



Another Great Migration? Thanks, But I Still Like Chicago

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Will the last Black person to leave Chicago please turn out the lights?

That thought comes to mind whenever I see headlines or stories about Chicago losing its Black population.

It reminds me of the early 1970s when I was living near Seattle where the aerospace industry had taken a nose-dive locally tagged “the Boeing Bust.”

A couple of wry real estate agents mocked local pessimism by putting up a highway billboard near Sea-Tac International Airport, saying, “Will the last person leaving SEATTLE — turn out the lights?”

The lights are still on in Seattle and I expect them to remain on for some time to come.

Yet that billboard still comes to mind as I hear a new round of hand-wringing concern over some worrisome population trends.


Such as right now. The 2020 census confirms a long-running trend that many Chicagoans have suspected: a dramatic plunge in the city’s Black population.

Chicago’s not alone. Nine of the 10 cities with the most Black residents nationwide also showed decreases in Black population since 2000, according to a Politico study of new census data for Black, non-Hispanic residents.

Only Houston, that upstart oil town that demographers expect to overtake Chicago’s third-largest city slot during the next decade (Ah, how the mighty are slipping!), saw a Black population increase in that list.

And, as much as I love my city’s racial, ethnic and cultural diversity, especially when I’m looking for good restaurants, I’m long past being surprised to learn that Latinos have surpassed African Americans as the city’s second-largest racial or ethnic group.


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