|County of Warren|
|Named for||Joseph Warren|
|• Total||444 sq mi (1,150 km2)|
|• Land||428 sq mi (1,110 km2)|
|• Water||15 sq mi (40 km2) 3.4%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||49/sq mi (19/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Warren County is a county located in the northeastern Piedmont region of the U.S. state of North Carolina, on the northern border with Virginia, made famous for a landfill and birthplace of the environmental justice movement. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 18,642. Its county seat is Warrenton. It was a center of tobacco and cotton plantations, education, and later textile mills.
The county was formed in 1779 from the northern half of Bute County. It was named for Joseph Warren of Massachusetts, a physician and general in the American Revolutionary War who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Developed as a tobacco and cotton farming area, its county seat of Warrenton became a center of commerce and was one of the wealthiest towns in the state from 1840 to 1860. Many planters built fine homes there.
In the later nineteenth century, the county developed textile mills. In 1881, parts of Warren County, Franklin County, and Granville County were combined to form Vance County. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Warren County's continued reliance on agriculture slowed its development. Many residents migrated to cities for work.
Since the late 20th century, county residents have worked to attract other industrial and business development. Soul City, a "planned community" development, was funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It has not been successful in attracting business and industry, and has not developed as much housing as intended.
Beginning in 1982, Warren County was the site of the Warren County PCB Landfill. The state of North Carolina evaluated 90 different locations before determining Warren County was the best available site for the PCB landfill. As described in a General Accounting Office (GAO) report published on June 1, 1983, North Carolina wanted the landfill to be in an area bounded by the counties where the PCB spills had occurred, with a minimum area of 16 acres (6.5 ha), isolated from highly populated areas, and accessible by road with a deeded right-of-way. The site of the Warren County PCB landfill at the time of the 1980 census was 66% black. Additionally, the area had a mean family income of $10,367 (amongst the lowest of any of the 90 sites considered), and 90% of the black population was living under the poverty level.
The final two locations for the landfill came down to Warren County and a county called Chatham that was eventually dropped because it was publicly owned land. On July 2, 1982, the NAACP made a final attempt to block the creation of the landfill on the basis of racial discrimination. Their plea was denied by the Federal District court stating that race was not an issue because "throughout all the Federal and State hearings and private party suits, it was never suggested that race was a motivating factor in the location of the landfill". In response to the court's decision to make Warren County the site of the PCB landfill, protests ensued. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) staged a massive protest where more than 500 protesters were arrested. Not only did the protest impact the community itself, but it emerged as the birthplace of many environmental justice studies in regard to hazardous waste facilities being placed in minority communities. Without the protests and displeasures that the African Americans voiced in Warren County, the United Church of Christ would not have studied the implicit bias found while examining where hazardous waste facilities were placed all over the United States.
Five years later, the United Church of Christ published a report that race was the most significant factor in determining where hazardous waste facilities would be placed. Finding 3 out of every 5 African Americans and Hispanics live in a community housing a toxic waste site. This led to both Presidents George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton to implement policy to make sure that waste sites would not be placed in completely minority neighborhoods. The site was not made safe until 2004.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 444 square miles (1,150 km2), of which 428 square miles (1,110 km2) is land and 15 square miles (39 km2) (3.4%) is water.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Black or African American (non-Hispanic)||9,049||48.54%|
|Hispanic or Latino||739||3.96%|
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 18,642 people, 7,786 households, and 4,589 families residing in the county.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 20,972 people living in the county. 52.3% were Black or African American, 38.8% White, 5.0% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 2.0% of some other race and 1.6% of two or more races. 3.3% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).
As of the census of 2000, there were 19,972 people, 7,708 households, and 5,449 families living in the county. The population density was 47 people per square mile (18/km2). There were 10,548 housing units at an average density of 25 per square mile (10/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 54.49% Black or African American, 38.90% White, 4.79% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.79% from other races, and 0.88% from two or more races. 1.59% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 7,708 households, out of which 28.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.20% were married couples living together, 17.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.30% were non-families. 26.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.97.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.50% under the age of 18, 8.00% from 18 to 24, 26.30% from 25 to 44, 24.80% from 45 to 64, and 17.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 96.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.00 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $28,351, and the median income for a family was $33,602. Males had a median income of $26,928 versus $20,787 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,716. About 15.70% of families and 19.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.90% of those under age 18 and 20.80% of those age 65 or over.
Warren County is heavily populated by the Haliwa-Saponi, descendants of a long existing tri-racial isolate deeply rooted in the area.
The county favors Democratic candidates over Republicans. In the 2004 election, the county's voters favored Democrat John F. Kerry over Republican George W. Bush by 65% to 35%.
In the 2004 governor's race, Warren County supported Democrat Mike Easley by 74% to 25% over Republican Patrick J. Ballantine. Warren County is represented in the North Carolina House of Representatives by Rep. Michael H. Wray (D-Gaston) in District 27 and in the North Carolina Senate by Sen. Doug Berger (D-Youngsville) in District 3. It also forms part of the 1st congressional district, which seat is held by U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D).
Warren County has a council-manager government, governed by a five-member Board of Commissioners. County commissioners are elected to staggered four-year terms and represent one of five single-member districts of roughly equal population. The council hires a county manager for daily administration.
|2||Ulysses S. Ross||2002||2010||Vice Chairman|
Warren County is a member of the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments.