After 50 years of racial strife: Why is Greensboro still so tense?

By | June 7, 2011


– The midday buzz of Greensboro business chatter fills the Liberty Oak Restaurant & Bar, where black and white diners make deals over fine white tablecloths.

Around the corner, on Greene Street, a young couple — one black, one white — walks hand-in-hand in front of the Carolina Theatre, where black people were once allowed to sit only in the balcony. And across the street at City Hall, African Americans have won unprecedented positions of political power in Greensboro in the past four years, including mayor and city manager.

The 2010 census showed the South is becoming more diverse, and that descendents of African-Americans who migrated North decades ago are now heading South. For the first time, Greensboro’s minorities outnumber white residents, 51.6% to 48.4%, census data showed. The city’s African American population increased by nearly 31% in the past decade.

It’s a subtle shift, but even after so much progress, it matters. Residents said it could change the political and economic power structure that has long been in place in cities like Greensboro.

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