By Paul Holston
Posted 7:25 PM EST, Sun. May 1, 2016
Over the last couple of decades, Washington D.C.’s local demographic has vastly grown and become more diverse throughout the district. Although at one point known as “chocolate city” due to the city being predominately African-American and now going through redevelopment from gentrification, through it all, African immigrants have stayed and have been continuously increasing with each year.
According to the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs, the District’s African community accounts for approximately 15-17 percent of D.C’s entire immigrant population, which is the highest proportion of African-born residents of any major city in the United States.
In a 2015 article by Pew Research Center Analyst Monica Anderson, “The number of black immigrants from African nations has rapidly grown,”
“Between 2000 and 2013, the black African immigrant population grew from 570,000 to 1.4 million, an increase of 137 percent,” she stated.
Top countries of origin — Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana and Egypt – have made up the majority of the African-born immigrant population in D.C, according to the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs.
According to a Washington Post article by Pamela Constable in 2014, the African immigrant population nationwide has grown steadily, from about 80,000 in 1970 to 1.6 million today nationwide.
Historically, during the late 1950s and early 1960s, newly independent African immigrants came to U.S. as college students, according to an article by Jill H. Wilson.
In Washington in particular, Howard University, one of the nation’s top historical black colleges and universities, would be an institution where many decided to attend college.
Wilson further discovered that from speaking with black African immigrants in Washington, he concluded that D.C. was attractive to them for four main reasons: “Its cosmopolitan nature (including its racial diversity); its manageability (especially compared with New York, which was noted as too big and too expensive); its status as a center for international work; and its standing as the capital city (which is viewed as the most important city in many African countries).”
If current statistics on African immigration growth continue in a similar pattern, by the next couple of decades, current numbers of African immigrants in the U.S. are sure to double again, making D.C. and the United States to continue to diversify its lands.