Why did Lansing make our list of 10 Best Cities for African Americans?
In an age when racial identity in American is more fluid than it's ever been, Lansing, MI, could be the poster child for multiracial identity and acceptance. Lansing has the highest percentage of African Americans who identify with more than one race. In fact, four percent of Lansing’s African-American residents identify themselves as being of mixed race. These numbers highlight the fact that interracial dating and marriage is more accepted here than in other parts of the country.
Lansing is also one of the most integrated cities in the country. Researchers at Brown University studied the 2010 Census data to establish a segregation scale for cities, where a score of 100 is complete segregation and zero is complete integration. Lansing scored 28 for black-white segregation; nationally, the score is 59. Lansing's black population sits at around 20 percent of the total, but as more families become aware of the city's educational, cultural, governmental, and economic progress, that number is expected to grow.
Lansing's community leaders say many of the quality of life amenities that make Lansing an appealing place to African Americans make it a desirable place to live for all groups – adding to the city's diversity.
"The City of Lansing and the Greater Lansing region offer an ideal mix of educators, entrepreneurs, lawmakers, and community stakeholders supporting a broad and diverse population," says Kristin Beltzer, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer for the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. "The arts, restaurants, universities, healthcare, and businesses are all important in attracting and retaining talent from around the globe. The region prides itself on the thrill of Big Ten and professional athletics, as well as world class art museums and Broadway productions. It is the diverse and abundant opportunities to experience a great quality of life that attracts multicultural professionals, students, seniors and families to Mid-Michigan."
Economic opportunity drives upward mobility for African Americans in Lansing. Organizations such as the Lansing Black Chamber of Commerce work to give black business owners access to capital and resources they need to success, and groups such as the Lansing Black College Tour work to ensure African American students have access to higher education opportunities that will make them more employable. African Americans own a wide range of businesses in Lansing, from newspapers and radio stations to construction firms and nightclubs. In fact, lifelong Lansing native and black businessman Joel Ferguson founded two of the city's television stations.
Lansing also has a number of cultural advantages. The Capital City African American Cultural Association, for example, has hosted an African American Parade and Heritage Festival every year for over a decade. The Lansing JazzFest and the Old Town BluesFest host leading musicians, and are two of the larger music festivals held in the state. The Greater Lansing Area Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission, which operates through the city government, works to preserve the late Dr. King's legacy with a series of educational programs, and organizations at nearby Michigan State University, such as the Black Student Alliance, regularly host cultural events open to the community.
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