North Carolina

According to 2020 census data, the Black/African American alone population in North Carolina was 2,140,217 (black alone), which accounts for approximately 21% of the state’s total, or 2,344,553 (Black in combination with one or more races) 22% of the total population.

State DataBlack AloneTotal State
Total population (ACS estimate)2,140,21710,551,162
Median household income$42,96161972
Bachelor’s degree or higher24.7%34.9%
Family poverty rate16.5%9.4%
Percentage households Married-couple families26.9%47.3%
Homeowner rate46.9%66.9%

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


Between 1990 and 2020, the Black population in North Carolina experienced substantial growth, rising from around 1.5 million to over 2.3 million. This growth has been driven by both natural increase and in-migration from other states. As the African American population continues to grow, it has contributed to the political, economic, and cultural landscape of North Carolina.

A significant proportion of North Carolina’s African American population resides in urban areas, such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, and Winston-Salem. Additionally, there are numerous Black residents living in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas across the state.


North Carolina has experienced a reversal of the Great Migration trend, with a noticeable number of African Americans returning to the state from the North and the West. This phenomenon, known as the “New Great Migration” or the “Reverse Great Migration,” has led to a resurgence of Black communities in the state, particularly in urban areas like Charlotte and Raleigh. This return migration has been fueled by factors such as affordable housing, job opportunities, and cultural connections to the region.


Historically, Black people in North Carolina were employed in various industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, and domestic work. Over time, the African American workforce diversified, finding employment in fields such as education, healthcare, and government.

In the present day, African Americans in North Carolina work across various industries, including finance, technology, healthcare, education, and entertainment. There has been a noticeable increase in Black entrepreneurship, with many small businesses owned and operated by African Americans contributing significantly to North Carolina’s economy.


The presence of African Americans in North Carolina dates back to the 1600s when the region was a British colony. At the time, the Black population was mainly composed of enslaved Africans who were brought to the area to work on plantations. By the end of the 18th century, the Black population in North Carolina had grown significantly, with enslaved people comprising approximately 26% of the state’s total population.

Following the Civil War and the subsequent emancipation of enslaved people, North Carolina’s Black population continued to grow. Many African Americans remained in the state to work as sharecroppers or tenant farmers. During the Great Migration in the early 20th century, a large number of Black residents left the South, including North Carolina, in search of better opportunities in the industrial North. However, North Carolina’s Black population still experienced growth during this time, reaching approximately 1.1 million by 1940.

As the African American population in North Carolina has grown and diversified, it has contributed significantly to the state’s political, economic, and cultural landscape. African American leaders and activists have made substantial strides in local and state politics, while the state’s entertainment, music, and arts scenes have been heavily influenced by the contributions of Black artists and creatives.

North Carolina has been home to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) such as North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, and Winston-Salem State University, which have played a vital role in the education and empowerment of African Americans in the state and beyond.

Additionally, cities like Charlotte and Raleigh have emerged as centers for Black entrepreneurship, entertainment, and arts, with thriving creative scenes that have produced influential artists and contributed to the development of various genres, such as hip-hop and R&B.

Get the Complete North Carolina African American Population Report

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