African Americans in California
California African American Museum.jpg
Regions with significant populations
Fillmore District and Bayview-Hunters Point in San Francisco; Oakland and the East Bay Area; Vallejo, Berkeley, Fairfield and Hayward in the San Francisco Bay Area; Compton, South Los Angeles, Gardena, Carson, Palmdale, Lancaster, Long Beach and Inglewood; Southeast San Diego; San Bernardino and Moreno Valley, Victorville, Rialto and other Inland Empire cities;,[1] Stockton, Elk Grove and Sacramento; North Bakersfield and North Fresno
California English, African-American Vernacular English;[2] African languages spoken by African immigrants, Caribbean languages spoken by the black Caribbean minority, and Spanish spoken by Black Hispanics
Christianity, Irreligion[3]
Related ethnic groups
Non-Hispanic or Latino African Americans, African immigrants in the United States, West Indian Americans, Black Hispanic and Latino Americans
Sunset District, East Bakersfield, Kern County, California. Recreational center in (African-American . . . - NARA - 521664.tif
Fire Station No. 30 (African American Firefighters Museum).jpg
California African American Museum sign.JPG
African American Museum Oakland Library-20.jpg
African American Museum and Library at Oakland (2008).jpg
African American worker Richmond Shipyards.jpg

African American Californians or Black Californians are residents of the state of California who are of African ancestry. According to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, those identified solely as African American or black constituted 5.8% or 2,282,144 residents in California. Including an additional 1.2% who identified has having partial African ancestry, the figure was 7.0% (2.8 million residents).[4][5]

The Black community is prevalent in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Solano Counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento County, and San Joaquin County. In Southern California, the population is concentrated in Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County and San Diego County.[6][better source needed]

California also has a growing Afro-Caribbean and African immigrant population. Most African immigrants in California come from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Many Ethiopians live in Little Ethiopia in West Los Angeles. California has one of the highest concentrations of black African immigrants.[7] 41,249 Afro-Asians live in California.[8] There is a Blaxican community in California.[9] There is also a growing Blaxican population in Los Angeles.[10] California claimed 113,255 African immigrants in 2000. They came from Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa.[11]

African Americans have contributed to California's music, culture and hip hop scene. Tyga, Saweetie, Doja Cat, Jhené Aiko, Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg are famous musicians of African American descent.[citation needed]

California has the largest multiracial African American population by number in the United States.[12]

The earliest black residents in California were Afro-Latino slaves brought by the Spanish.[13]

The black population in California has been declining. Blacks having been leaving California and moving out of the state along with whites.[14] Gentrification in California has caused many African Americans in California to become homeless and has pushed them out of historical urban centers like Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and into new cheaper suburban regions, like East Contra Costa, Inland Empire and Central Valley.[15] For example, many blacks from Los Angeles have moved to desert areas such as Palmdale and Lancaster in the 1990s. The black population in Los Angeles County has been rapidly declining.[16] The black population has also declined in San Francisco.[17] African Americans have the second highest poverty rate in California, after Hispanics.[18] This has caused many blacks from California to move back to the Southern United States.[19]

African Americans migrated from Southern states like Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas to California during the Second Great Migration.[20]

People who identify as black in California say their heritage is African American, Mexican, Spanish, Irish, Jamaican, German, Filipino, Nigerian, Italian, Puerto Rican, Ethiopian, French, Belizean, English, Haitian, Caribbean, Japanese, Eritrean, Congolese, Portuguese, Kenyan, Salvadoran, Panamanian, Somali, Dominican, Cuban, Chinese, Polish, Ghanaian, Egyptian, Dutch, Swedish, sub-Saharan, Samoan, Norwegian, Guyanese, Guatemalan, Indian, Trinidadian, Scottish, Latin American, Korean, Cameroonian, British, Brazilian and/or South African.[21]

Most Africans in California are of Ethiopian, Nigerian, Somali, Kenyan, Ghanaian, Liberian, Sierra Leonean, Sudanese, Ugandan, Cape Verdean, Zimbabwean and South African ancestry. There is also a sizable Jamaican, Haitian, Caribbean, Afro-Latino and Afro-Belizean population in California.[22] There is also a small Bahamian, Barbadian, Bermudan, British West Indian, Dutch West Indian, and Trinidadian population in California.[23]

The black population has decreased in many neighborhoods and cities in California. Many areas such as Compton, Inglewood and Watts that were once predominately black are now predominately Latino. Many Mexicans and Central Americans have displaced them in their historical areas.[24][25][26]

African Americans are more likely to become homeless in California.[27]


See also: History of slavery in California

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2022)

Racial/Ethnic Makeup of California treating Hispanics as a Separate Category (2017)[28]

  White Non-Hispanic (36.97%)
  Black Non-Hispanic (5.47%)
  Native American Non-Hispanic (0.37%)
  Asian Non-Hispanic (14.37%)
  Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic (0.35%)
  Other Non-Hispanic (0.27%)
  Two or more races Non-Hispanic (3.05%)
  Hispanic Any Race (39.15%)
Pío Pico who was California's last governor under Mexican rule, was of mixed Spanish, Native American, and African descent
Pío Pico who was California's last governor under Mexican rule, was of mixed Spanish, Native American, and African descent

People of African-descent first appeared in California from Mexico due to the Spanish Conquest.[29] The Spaniards imported African slaves to California. There was many mulattos in Alta California.[30] Spanish soldiers, priests, and settlers brought black slaves and free blacks into the state in the eighteenth century.[31] African Americans arrived in California by 1860 in search of gold during the California Gold Rush.[32] White southerners brought black slaves into the California mines in 1849. White slave owners and their black slaves primarily from Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas.[33] The first census recorded of African Americans in California appeared in 1850 with 962 people and 1860 with 4,086 people.[34] Then, in 1910 the number rose to 22,000.[35] African Americans migrated to the North from the Southern United States to escape Jim Crow in between 1940 and 1970. They also migrated to the state for better job opportunities.[36] African Americans totaled to less than one percent of California's population before the Second World War.[35] The population of African Americans grew slowly with other minorities in California, with only 21,645 African American residents in 1910 compared to two million white residents.[37] Post-WWII, African Americans boosted their population enormously in California.[35] African Americans migrated to California from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas to work in the defense industry.[38] In the 2010s, California was a net loser of black migration for the first time in three decades. Most exiting California blacks are returning to the south especially Texas and the Atlanta metropolitan area.[39] There are Black neighborhoods and cities with Black populations surpassing 15% in Southern California like in Compton, South Los Angeles and Inglewood, and in Northern California like Stockton,[40] Oakland, and Vallejo.[41]

Oakland has been noted for being a center of Northern California's Black population, with it being at least 25% Black as of 2020. Many African Americans who settled in California, likewise in Oakland, worked on the railroad in Oakland and East Bay areas in the early-to-mid 1900s.[42]

Anti-black hate crimes in California has increased.[43][44][45][46]

COVID-19 deaths have risen for African Americans in California.[47][48][49]


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2022)

African American residents of California were first mentioned in 1919 by black Californian historian Delilah Beasley, and later on Rudolph Lapp, others.[35] More information appeared in journals such as The Journal of Negro history and The Journal of African American History. (3)[50] Other Californian publications about African Americans include the California Eagle, California Voice, and Los Angeles Sentinel.[35]


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2022)

After a petition sent by African Americans to the Los Angeles Board of Education in 1872, the California Supreme Court ruled Ward v. Floor current segregation in educational practices as unconstitutional, breaching U.S. Constitution's 14th and 15th amendments.[37] African American students in lower education increased from 24 in 1870 to 183 by the late 19th century, and ranked highest performing students in literacy subjects in 1900.[37] In 1994, California's African American students made up about seven percent of higher education, compared to nine percent in the country.[51]


Blacks in California have the highest death rate. Black Californians have the highest death rates from breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer.[52] Blacks in California are also dying at a higher rate than other ethnic groups in California from COVID-19.[53]


82% of African Americans in California voted for Joe Biden in a exit poll in 2020.[54][55]

Kamala Harris is the first African American female Vice President. She was born and raised in California.[56]

82% of African American voters are registered as Democrats.[57]

88% of African Americans in California voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.[58][59]


Ancestry by origin[22] Number %
Cape Verde Cape Verdeans 1462
Ethiopia Ethiopians 33,538
Ghana Ghanaians 4854
Kenya Kenyans 3228
Liberia Liberians 2415
Nigeria Nigerians 36415
Senegal Senegalese 0
Sierra Leone Sierra Leoneans 1278
Somalia Somalis 5022
South Africa South Africans 3376
Sudan Sudanese 3538
Uganda Ugandans 1710
Zimbabwe Zimbabweans 408
African 110116
Other subsaharan African 10287

Notable Black Californians

This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by adding missing items with reliable sources.

Saweetie is of African American, Chinese and Filipino descent from Northern California.
Saweetie is of African American, Chinese and Filipino descent from Northern California.
Tinashe is of Zimbabwean, Danish, Norwegian and Irish descent from Los Angeles
Tinashe is of Zimbabwean, Danish, Norwegian and Irish descent from Los Angeles
Jhené Aiko is of Spanish, Dominican, Japanese, Native American, African-American, and German-Jewish descent from Los Angeles
Jhené Aiko is of Spanish, Dominican, Japanese, Native American, African-American, and German-Jewish descent from Los Angeles
Doja Cat was born in Los Angeles and is South African and Jewish descent. She identifies as a black woman.[60]
Doja Cat was born in Los Angeles and is South African and Jewish descent. She identifies as a black woman.[60]

See also


  1. ^ "Cities with the Highest Percentage of Blacks (African Americans) in California | Zip Atlas".
  2. ^ African American Vernacular English in California - John Rickford
  3. ^ "Religious Landscape Study".
  5. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates." American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. ^ California Black Population By County, 2018
  7. ^ "Black African Immigrants in the US".
  8. ^ "Resident Population Data - 2010 Census". Archived from the original on December 25, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2022.
  9. ^ Between Black and Brown: Blaxican (Black-Mexican) Multiracial Identity in California
  10. ^ "'Blaxicans of L.A.' Instagram project comes to life as an exhibit in Highland Park". Los Angeles Times. February 12, 2016.
  11. ^ Other Immigrants: The Global Origins of the American People
  12. ^ The Growing Diversity of Black America
  13. ^ "Afro-Latinos".
  14. ^ Racial/Ethnic Differences in Who’s Leaving California
  15. ^ The California Black Census & Redistricting Hub
  16. ^ Black population in L.A. County declines as more return to South
  17. ^ The Loneliness of Being Black in San Francisco
  18. ^ Poverty in California
  19. ^ The hidden toll of California’s Black exodus
  20. ^ "AAME".
  22. ^ a b "Explore Census Data".
  23. ^ "Explore Census Data".
  24. ^ Reich, Steven A. (April 17, 2014). The Great Black Migration: A Historical Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic. ISBN 9781610696661.
  25. ^ Noguera, Pedro A.; Syeed, Esa (2020). City Schools and the American Dream 2: The Enduring Promise of Public Education. ISBN 9780807778555.
  26. ^ Halle, David (August 15, 2003). New York and Los Angeles: Politics, Society, and Culture--A Comparative View. ISBN 9780226313702.
  27. ^ Black people disproportionately homeless in California
  28. ^ "B03002 HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY RACE - California - 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. July 1, 2017. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  29. ^ Taylor, Quintard (January 1, 2000). "African American Men in the American West, 1528-1990". The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 569: 102–119. doi:10.1177/000271620056900108. JSTOR 1048813. S2CID 145420060.
  30. ^ The Presidios of Alta California
  31. ^ Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass Three-volume Set. 2006.
  32. ^ "African Americans in the California Gold Rush (1848-1860) •". February 9, 2022.
  33. ^ African Americans in the Gold Rush
  34. ^ Bradford, Eric. "Free African American Population in the U.S. : 1790-1860." NCpedia Home Page | NCpedia. Ncpedia, 2008.
  35. ^ a b c d e Moore, Shirley Ann Wilson (January 1, 1996). "African Americans in California: A Brief Historiography". California History. 75 (3): 194–197. doi:10.2307/25177592. JSTOR 25177592.
  36. ^ (PDF) ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  37. ^ a b c Campbell, Marne L. (January 1, 2012). "African American Women, Wealth Accumulation, and Social Welfare Activism in 19Th-Century Los Angeles". The Journal of African American History. 97 (4): 376–400. doi:10.5323/jafriamerhist.97.4.0376. JSTOR 10.5323/jafriamerhist.97.4.0376. S2CID 149013832.
  38. ^ "African Americans in Los Angeles - African American Studies - Oxford Bibliographies - obo". Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  39. ^ "Politics | News from The Advocate". The Advocate. Retrieved November 5, 2020.
  40. ^ Payton, Allen (February 5, 2019). "Antioch Council hires first African American as City Attorney". The Antioch Herald. Retrieved March 19, 2020.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  41. ^ "These Are The 10 California Cities With The Largest Black Population For 2019". RoadSnacks. December 9, 2018. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  42. ^ Tramble, Thomas and Wilma (2007). The Pullman Porters and West Oakland. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub.
  43. ^ "Anti-Black, gay, Asian bias fuel California hate crime surge". Omaha World-Herald. AP. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  44. ^ "Anti-Black and Asian bias fuel California hate crime surge". Durango Herald. AP. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  45. ^ "California hate crime up 31% in 2020, led by anti-Black bias". AP NEWS. June 30, 2021. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  46. ^ "Anti-Black, gay, Asian bias fuel California hate crime surge". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Associated Press. June 28, 2022. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 1330888409.
  47. ^ Hwang, Kristen (February 25, 2022). "COVID-19 has turned deadlier for Black Californians, who have the state's lowest vaccination rate". CalMatters. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  48. ^ "African-American COVID-19 deaths 'disproportionately' high in California". The Mercury News. April 16, 2020. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  49. ^ Alexander, Kurtis (April 17, 2020). "Coronavirus appears twice as deadly for blacks as whites in California". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  50. ^ Franklin, V. P. (January 1, 2006). "Introduction: The African American Experience in the Western States". The Journal of African American History. 91 (1): 1–3. doi:10.1086/JAAHv91n1p1. JSTOR 20064043. S2CID 149288451.
  51. ^ "Serious Erosion of African-American Enrollment in California Higher Education". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (3): 11. January 1, 1994. doi:10.2307/2963084. JSTOR 2963084.
  52. ^[bare URL PDF]
  53. ^ Hwang, Kristen (February 25, 2022). "COVID-19 has turned deadlier for Black Californians, who have the state's lowest vaccination rate". Calmatters.
  54. ^ Brittany Mayes, Leslie Shapiro, Chris Alcantara, Scott Clement, Emily Guskin (November 7, 2020) [2020-11-02]. "Exit poll results and analysis for the 2020 presidential election". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 1330888409.((cite news)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  55. ^ "California 2020 President exit polls". CNN.
  56. ^ "Kamala Harris | Biography, Policies, Family, & Facts | Britannica".
  57. ^ "Just the Facts: Race and Voting in California".
  58. ^ "California Results 2016". NBC News. November 28, 2016.
  59. ^ Miller, Kenneth P. (August 2020). Texas Vs. California: A History of Their Struggle for the Future of America. ISBN 978-0-19-007736-5.
  60. ^ Doja Cat denies 'stripping for white supremacists' and using racist insults
  61. ^ "The Evolution of Miguel". BET.
  62. ^ Fil-Am singer H.E.R. talks of her Pinoy roots and writing the song featured in movie ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’
  63. ^ Blasians to Celebrate During Black History Month (and Every Other Month)
  64. ^ "See All Our Favorite Celebrity 'Blasians' In Honor Of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month". BET.