City StoriesWest Virginia

West Virginia

West Virginia Black Population Story


1.8 Million – (94% White, 4% Black)

Beckley – 16,000+ (72% White, 21% Black)

Bluefield – 10,000+ (73% White, 27% Black)

Charleston – 50,000+ (78% White, 15% Black)

Huntington – 49,000+ (87% White, 9% Black)

County Poverty Rate:

Raleigh County (Beckley, WV) – 18%, around Fayette Street

Mercer County (Bluefield, WV) – 20%, mostly on the NorthSide

Cabell County (Huntington, WV) – 20%, mostly East of Hal Greer.

Kanawha County (Charleston, WV) – 14%, on the West Side and around Ruffner Avenue.

west virginia ghetto

Littlepage Terrace, Charleston.

Average Income:

West Virginia – $24,000

Beckley – $25,000

Bluefield – $22,000

Charleston  – $34,000

Huntington – $21,000


Beckley – 1,500 (2,000 have less than 20 employees)

Bluefield – 2,300+ (2,000 have less than 20 employees)

Charleston – 5,000+ (4,000 have less than 20 employees)

Huntington – 7,000+ (6,000 have less than 20 employees)

Black Owned Businesses:

Beckley – 5%

Bluefield – 9%

Charleston – 4%

Huntington – 5%


West Virginia Black Population Areas:

Beckley – The East Side around Fayette St known as East Beckley

Bluefield – South Side/Bland Street and North Side/Bluefield Ave

west virginia ghetto

Bluefield, West Virginia

Charleston – West Side, East Side (Ruffner Ave), Orchard Manor, and Littlepage Terrace and Washington Manor Projects.

Littlepage Terrace and Washington Manor  were West Virginia’s first housing projects  that were built during  the late 1930s as Littlepage Terrace was originally strictly for white families and Washington Manor was built for black families.

Currently the city of Charleston is planning on rebuilding most of the West Virginia ghetto on the city’s West Side.

west virginia ghetto

Northcott housing projects in Huntington, WV.

Huntington – Hal Greer Blvd, Northcott Court, and the Fairfield area.  Like Charleston, the black community and other areas of Fairfield are being renovated with the city demolishing most of the Northcott Court Projects.

West Virginia Black History:

The West Virginia black history story begins with the black population living in West Virginia since the 1800s with most of them working in the coal mines, originally as slaves and later as freed men.

The population expanded during the early part of the 1900s, even though some families left for jobs in northern states like Ohio and Michigan during the 1940s and 1950s.

In the beginning (late 1800s to early 1900s) most resided in the southern part of the state due to the employment opportunities in the coal mines.

west virginia black population west virignia ghetto

Beckley, West Virginia

To cut cost, many coal companies hired and recruited African-Americans from nearby states like Virginia.  These companies would build and rent homes and would create small towns for black workers and their families to live.

Today, the West Virginia black population is around 4% of the state’s total population with extremely small communities throughout West Virginia.


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 *Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.