In 1790, according to census figures, black residents of this country, most of whom were slaves, were 19.3 percent of the population, numbering 757,000. In 2000 blacks were 12.3 percent of the population, numbering 34.6 million. In 210 years the black population grew 45-fold, or by four million each 25-year generation. In 1950 blacks were 9.9 percent of the population (15.1 million), which increased to 10.5 percent in 1960, to 11.1 percent in 1970, to 11.8 percent in 1980 and to 12.1 percent (29.9 million) in 1990.You know I was in another part of town one weekend many years ago and I kept running into people who came from Russia or at least the old Soviet Union. I remarked that the funny thing would be that it won't be the Latinos who are growing as a group but the Russians. I wonder if it's overhype that by 2050 Latinos would be the majority in this country. I know things could change by that time but if that trend holds it may not be true within the next 40 or so years.
The black population more than doubled between 1950 and 2000, but the country's white population increased from 135 million to 211.5 million during that period. Despite a higher birth rate among blacks than whites, the white population, fueled by immigration, grew 70-fold in the last 210 years, from 3.1 million in 1790 to 211.5 million in 2000. Whites now outnumber blacks by 6-1. In 1950 whites outnumbered blacks by 9-1, and in 1790 it was 4.2-1.
Then there's the exploding Hispanic population, which numbers 35.5 million, up from 22.3 million in 1990. Many older, conservative Hispanics, largely Democrats, will be disinclined to support a black candidate for president.
The American population of 281 million (up from 248 million in 1990) is roughly 72 percent white, 12 percent black, 13 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian.
Turnout in the 2004 presidential contest was 122,285,000, up from 104,283,000 in 2000. It was 101,016,000 in 1992. Of those voters, less than 10 percent were black.
But the path to the presidential nomination involves far fewer voters, and black voters comprise a disproportionate share of Democrats -- which boosts Obama's prospects for winning the nomination.
It was interesting that he kept the population of blacks vs. whites in perspective. Back when we weren't no more than 13 states, that was over 200 years ago, there were nothing but whites and slaves. So we comprised almost 20% of the population, these days we're 12 or 13%. While some seem to make a big deal that black-on-black crime has caused some depopulation in the last 20 or so years it's argued in this column that by the 2000 census the black population has increased. We'll see what it looks like in 2010 although by 2000 we are now the 2nd most numerous minority group followed by the Latinos.
Either way a lot to chew on here and something to consider.