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Southern Spaces
A journal about real and imagined spaces and places of the US South and their global connections

African American Suburban Development in Atlanta

San Diego State University
Published September 29, 2006


One of the most striking developments in recent southern history has been the pace and scale of African American suburbanization. Delving into the history of black organizations, civic politics, race-based policies, class economics and neighborhood formation, Andrew Wiese examines the circumstances and motives accompanying African American suburban development in Atlanta from the early 1950s until the early twenty-first century. In his discussion of the Candler-McAfee neighborhood in south Dekalb County, Prof. Wiese considers how race and class have influenced the community as well as the landscape. Racial discrimination applied to the places where most African Americans live remains the most significant basis for persistent racial inequality. Southern suburbia proves to be in step with, if not at the cutting edge of, trends in African American residential patterns writ large across the country.

African American Suburbanization

Part 2Dr. Wiese traces how Black suburbs faced intensified segregation and isolation from the post-WWII period through the 1960s

Part 3Dr. Wiese discusses how Black neighborhoods grew primarily through new home construction during the post war period

Part 4Dr. Wiese refers to postwar growth on Atlanta’s west side to illustrate how self-contained Black neighborhoods emerged

Part 5Dr. Wiese recounts how discrimination curbed the African American housing boom, leaving deep scars on the urban fabric

Part 6Dr. Wiese discusses how highway construction and urban renewal in the late 1950s displaced many Black Atlantans

Part 7Dr. Wiese describes long-term impacts of spatially-oriented discrimination

Part 8Dr. Wiese describes how recent suburbanization in Atlanta and across the US continues to reinforce stark divides

Figures Referenced:
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 6

About Andrew Wiese

Andrew Wiese is a historian of American urban and social history. He received his PhD from Columbia University in 1993. Prof. Wiese’s areas of interest include the history of housing and residential landscapes, housing policy, suburbanization, and the spatial production of race and class. He is the author of Places of Their Own: African American Suburbanization in the Twentieth Century (2004), which won the American Culture Association's John G. Cawelti Book Prize. Wiese recently completed an edited volume of essays and documents on North American suburban history, The Suburb Reader (2006), co-edited with Becky Nicolaides.

Video of Prof. Wiese was taken at "The End of Southern Exceptionalism" conference held at Emory University in March of 2006, an event organized by Prof. Joseph Crespino of the Emory University History Department and Prof. Matt Lassiter of the Department of History at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.