One of Alabama’s largest cities and the state’s oldest city, the city of Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras and one of the few places in the country that was once a port city for incoming slaves.
The Mobile Alabama black history story begins in the city’s first community for black families, an area known as Africa Town.
Now home to the Plateau and Happy Hills neighborhoods, Africa Town was the once home to hundreds freed slaves.
Other areas were places like the former Davis Avenue, which was renamed to Martin Luther King Avenue, or small sections of what is now Toulminville.
Today, the Mobile Alabama black population has grown and expanded into a number of places like Cody Road in West Mobile or neighborhoods south of Government Street like Navco, Maysville, Down The Bay, and the housing projects of Baltimore, Birdsville, and R.V. Taylor.
While north of Spring Hill Avenue the Mobile Alabama black population is located in neighborhoods like Crichton and Toulminville, the Roger Willams and Orange Grove housing complexes, as well the city of Prichard.
The city of Prichard is another section of the Mobile Alabama ghetto that has its own reputation with communities like Snug Harbor, Gulf and Alabama Village, Bessemer Projects, Smurf Village, Trinity Gardens, and more.
The story of Prichard Alabama history is similar to many other communities around the country like what Gary, Indiana is to Chicago or East St Louis is to the city of St. Louis, Prichard is to the city of Mobile.
Prichard started out as a suburb of Mobile, being located right outside of the city limits, that later changed and declined beginning in the 1960s and 70s.
The main cause of Prichard’s decline was a loss of a tax base as many people and businesses fled the community, as Prichard was becoming predominantly black.
A land grab with the community of Plateau becoming part of the city of Mobile, in order for the city council to control the black vote of Prichard, would later hurt Prichard’s tax base.**
With a lack of receiving proper government funding and grants, other than the money the city received for public housing, Prichard slowly began to decline.**
During the early days of the city of Mobile, African-Americans were restricted to only being able to live in a few places in the city of Mobile.
Over the years, the black community expanded as white families began to relocate into the newly constructed suburbs that were miles away from downtown Mobile.
Currently, communities of the city are once again changing especially within the Mobile Alabama ghetto of the city’s housing projects.
Neighborhoods like Orange Grove or Prichard’s Bessemer Projects were some of the first housing complexes to be transformed and rebuilt.
Orange Grove was once the largest housing project in Alabama, but currently the vast majority of the complex has been torn down and the remaining units have a strict tenant policy.
Areas like Happy Hills, R.V. Taylor, Birdsville, and a couple of other complexes are next to change into a mixed-income community with millions of dollars funding to rebuild the neighborhoods, while many of the old residents are being relocated or displaced.
Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.
Mobile, AL History Source:
**Anacker, Katrin B. The New American Suburb: Poverty, Race and the Economic Crisis. N.p.: Routledge, 2015. Print.