African Americans in California
Regions with significant populations
Fillmore District and Bayview-Hunters Point in San Francisco; Oakland and the East Bay Area; Compton, South Los Angeles, Palmdale, Lancaster, Long Beach and Inglewood; Southeast San Diego; San Bernardino and Moreno Valley and other Inland Empire cities;,[1] Stockton and Sacramento; North Bakersfield and North Fresno
California English, African languages, Spanish, African-American Vernacular English
Christianity, Islam, atheism

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).[2][3]

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.[citation needed]

In Los Angeles, There is a large Ethiopian population.[4] California has also a large foreign born black population.

The black population in California has declined due to most blacks moving back to the South.[5]


Racial/Ethnic Makeup of California treating Hispanics as a Separate Category (2017)[6]

  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%)

People of African-descent first appeared in California from Mexico due to the Spanish Conquest.[7] The first census recorded of African Americans in California appeared in 1850 with 962 people and 1860 with 4,086 people.[8] Then, in 1910 the number rose to 22,000.[9] African Americans totaled to less than one percent of California's population before the Second World War.[9] 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.[10] Post-WWII, African Americans boosted their population enormously in California.[9] African Americans migrated to California from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas to work in the defense industry.[11] 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.[12] 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,[13] Oakland, and Vallejo.[14]

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.[citation needed]


African American residents of California were first mentioned in 1919 by black Californian historian Delilah Beasley, and later on Rudolph Lapp, others.[9] More information appeared in journals such as The Journal of Negro history and The Journal of African American History. (3)[15] Other Californian publications about African Americans include the California Eagle, California Voice, and Los Angeles Sentinel.[9]


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.[10] 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.[10] In 1994, California's African American students made up about seven percent of higher education, compared to nine percent in the country.[16]

See also


  1. ^ "Cities with the Highest Percentage of Blacks (African Americans) in California | Zip Atlas".
  3. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates." American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. ^ Rivera, Carla (July 4, 1999). "Ethiopians in L.A. Still Feel Pain of War". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ Hepler, Lauren (July 15, 2020). "The hidden toll of California's Black exodus". CalMatters.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Bradford, Eric. "Free African American Population in the U.S. : 1790-1860." NCpedia Home Page | NCpedia. Ncpedia, 2008.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "African Americans in Los Angeles - African American Studies - Oxford Bibliographies - obo". Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  12. ^ Advocate, The. "Politics | News from The Advocate". The Advocate. Retrieved November 5, 2020.
  13. ^ Payton, Allen (February 5, 2019). "Antioch Council hires first African American as City Attorney". The Antioch Herald. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  14. ^ "These Are The 10 California Cities With The Largest Black Population For 2019". RoadSnacks. December 9, 2018. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "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.