According to the 2017 Census Bureau the state of California has the 5th largest Black population in the United States with 3,011,021 African Americans making up 8% of the state total.

Black AloneTotal State
Total population (ACS estimate)2,161,48539,237,836
Median household income$58,93684907
Bachelor’s degree or higher28.00%36.20%
Family poverty rate15.20%9.00%
Percentage households Married-couple families25.30%48.50%
Homeowner rate35.50%55.90%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2021 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates

Metropolitan areas in California
(2017 US census estimate Black alone)

Metropolitan AreaBlack Population

Los Angeles


San Francisco-Oakland


Riverside-San Bernardino




San Diego


Vallejo-Fairfield, CA


Fresno, CA


According to 2020 census data, the Black/African American alone population in California was around 2,114,771, which accounts for approximately 5.3% of the state’s total population.

Between 1990 and 2020, the Black alone population in California has seen steady growth, growing from around 1.5 million to over 2.1 million. This growth has been driven by both natural increase and in-migration from other states and countries. As the African American population continues to grow, it has contributed to the political, economic, and cultural landscape of California.

The majority of California’s Black alone population resides in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, where they make up approximately 5.6% of the city’s population and 4% of the metro population. Other urban areas, such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento, also host significant Black populations. Additionally, there are numerous Black residents living in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas across the state.

Throughout California’s history, the Black/African American alone population has worked in a variety of industries. During the Gold Rush era of the mid-1800s, Black miners and laborers played a significant role in the development of the state. In the 20th century, Black people worked in industries such as manufacturing, aerospace, and entertainment. During the Civil Rights era, Black residents of California worked in industries such as education, healthcare, and social services. Today, Black Californians work in a wide range of industries, including technology, finance, healthcare, education, and entertainment.

Black residents of California have made significant strides in local and state politics, with notable examples such as Kamala Harris, who became the first Black woman and the first woman of South Asian descent elected to the U.S. Vice Presidency in 2020. Additionally, California has been a hub for Black entrepreneurship, with a growing number of Black-owned businesses across the state. Black entertainers and athletes have also made significant contributions to California’s cultural landscape with iconic figures.

Get the Complete California African American Population Report