West Virginia Black Population Story
The biggest misconception about the state of West Virginia is that African Americans do not live in the state of West Virginia, as this least talked about community has black populations in multiple cities throughout the state.
West Virginia Statistics
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)
West Virginia’s Percentage of Black Owned Businesses:
Beckley – 5% of businesses are black owned
Bluefield – 9% of businesses are black owned
Charleston – 4% of businesses are black owned
Huntington – 5% of businesses are black owned
Number of Jobs / Average Income:
West Virginia – State’s median income, $24,000
Beckley – 1,500 (1,000 have less than 20 employees) / $25,000
Bluefield – 2,300+ (2,000 have less than 20 employees) / $22,000
Charleston – 5,000+ (4,000 have less than 20 employees) / $34,000
Huntington – 7,000+ (6,000 have less than 20 employees) / $21,000
West Virginia Black Population Areas:
Beckley, the black community is mostly loc.ated on the East Side around Fayette St in an area known as East Beckley, while the Beckley’s black population is also scattered in other sections of the city.
Bluefield , one of West Virginia’s original black populated cities, the black community is mostly located on the South Side along Bland Street and on the city’s North Side around Bluefield Avenue.
Charleston – The main sections for the city’s black community are the West Side, the 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 large portions of the once community that some may have considered as a West Virginia ghetto, Charleston’s West Side.
Huntington, finally the popular city of Huntington, due to the college campus of Marshall University, has the community mainly centered around Hal Greer Boulevard, while also within the area of the Marcum Terrace housing project.
Similar to Charleston and most cities with an urban population, the black community of Huntington is being threatening with a removal as gentrification is taken claim to sections of the community, starting with the demolishing of the Northcott Court housing complex.
West Virginia Black History:
There has been a West Virginia black population in the state since the 1800s as most of the African-Americans during that time worked in the coal mines, originally as slaves and later as freed men.
The population expanded during the early part of the 1900s, even though many families would leave for jobs in northern states like Ohio and Michigan during the 1940s and 1950s.
In the beginning, from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, most resided in the southern part of the state due to the employment opportunities within the coal mines.
To cut cost, many coal companies would hire and recruit African-Americans from nearby states like Virginia, in turn these companies would build and rent homes that would later help create small towns for black workers and their families.
Today, the West Virginia black population is around 4% of the state’s total population with extremely small communities throughout West Virginia and very little growth in sight.
*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.