”The places that are most threatened by Hurricane Florence this week, especially along the coast of the Carolinas, were heavily and, in some areas, almost entirely populated and owned by African-Americans a century ago...”
While many of these black residents have since moved elsewhere, those in pockets like Princeville, N.C., remain. One of the oldest towns incorporated by African-Americans in the United States, Princeville was devastated by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, but many residents chose to stay, hoping to avoid “another lost colony.”
Regina Cobb, 50, and her family have lived in Princeville for generations. “If it floods this time, I think my family is out,” she said this week. “This is God’s way of saying: ‘It’s time to do something different.’”
African-Americans have been driven from their homes in the region for decades, but the decision to leave has not always been theirs to make. In 1950, African-Americans were about a quarter of North Carolina’s population, according to census data. Today, blacks are roughly one-fifth of the total population.
Andrew W. Kahrl is a professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Virginia and the author of “The Land Was Ours: African-American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South.” Here we discuss race and the displacement of black coastal communities on the Atlantic....