The fact that all the residents so far are African American, many of them new to Prince George’s County, underscores just how differently the county is evolving compared with the rest of the Washington region.
From Loudoun to Fairfax to Montgomery, communities that are growing are also growing more integrated, with people of every race and ethnicity living side by side. Prince George’s stands virtually alone as a place that is gaining population yet has an increasing number of residents living in neighborhoods that are overwhelmingly one race — in this case, African American.
A Washington Post analysis of census data shows that the number of Prince George’s neighborhoods where more than 85 percent of residents are the same race or ethnicity — what demographers consider a high level of segregation — has inched up, from 25 percent in 1990 to 27 percent last year.
Though the increase is small, any uptick is startling in comparison with everywhere else in the region. While the all-white neighborhood has all but disappeared from Northern Virginia, Montgomery and the District, the all-black neighborhood is on the rise in Prince George’s.
Behind the shift
Four factors are driving the changes in Prince George’s: It remains a beacon for middle-class African Americans who want to live around other blacks. It continues to lose non-Hispanic whites, and few whites are moving in. It has been less successful than neighboring counties in attracting Asians. And its fastest-growing group, Hispanics, are carving out enclaves of their own instead of dispersing throughout the county.
The result has been a dramatic shift in the nature of segregation in Prince George’s. Twenty years ago, fully a third of the county’s segregated neighborhoods were white. Today, none are. And there are only a few communities where whites are a majority, mostly in College Park.
Meanwhile, the arrival of affluent and accomplished blacks — not only from the District and surrounding counties but from throughout the nation — has transformed vast swaths of the county. More than a third of the county’s African American residents live in neighborhoods that are more than 85 percent black. From Bowie to Brandywine, three-quarters of the neighborhoods where household incomes surpass $100,000 are majority African American.
The Hamptons at Woodmore, where Sterling Crockett lives, is shaping up to be another one.
The black business executive, who could afford to live just about anywhere, moved from North Bethesda to Bowie four years ago with his wife, Florence.
To appreciate some of the reasons why, go back to the small town in southwestern Virginia where Crockett was one of only four black students in his graduating class.
An elementary school teacher once ordered a white classmate not to share her scissors with Crockett, and his high school hosted a “slave day,” auctioning off athletes to raise money.