The “white flight” phenomenon in America began in the 1940’s and 50’s when severe segregation, barriers on black employment, and the beginning of deindustrialization caused major tensions between racial and class groups. The explosion of the black population in Detroit, the competition for jobs, and the segregation of neighborhoods and lack of housing for black citizens caused major tension in the city. After the early 70’s when competition in politics was lost by whites to the election of a black mayor, upper and middle class whites began to leave Detroit. The movement of whites out of the city increased with deindustrializatio and middle and upper class residents sought out communities that supported a more conservative political and economic environment. The city of Detroit half of its population in about 30 years. As a result, the city became largely abandoned in many areas, the percentage of the population below the poverty line was higher than any other American urban city along with unemployment, and the economy of Detroit decreased rapidly throughout the late 70’s and 80’s. Although many cities were effected by the the economic recession in the 70’s, it seems Detroit was hit the hardest and “white flight” seems to have played a role in the decay of the city.
Source: Thompson, Heather. “Rethinking the Politics of White Flight in the Postwar City.” Journal of Urban History, 23. (1999): 163-198.