Map of Prince George's County, bordered by Montgomery County or “MoCo” to the North, Charles County to the South and the District to the East. The high cost of housing is forcing Black residents and other people of color to move out of major metropolitan areas to surrounding counties. (Courtesy Photo)

Reporters Notebook: Inclusive civic engagement

By Deborah Bailey,
AFRO D.C. Editor

The National Association of Counties (NAC) just ended their annual conference on Inclusive Civic Engagement in Colorado this week. County Executives and officials across America are finding out, like all of us who live in counties, that the regions surrounding our major metropolitan cities are more diverse with challenges that require collaboration and a broader lens for problem solving. 

Black America is moving out to the county 

The counties surrounding Washington, D.C. are all prime examples of the diversification of once predominately-White land areas. According to the Pew Research Center, an increasing number of U.S. counties are majority Black counties, like Prince George’s County, a long-standing predominately-Black county. Prince George’s has the second largest population in Maryland and its residents were instrumental in handing Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Wes Moore his recent win. 

Dr. Aminta Breaux, president of Bowie State University in Prince George’s County is our featured Civic Engagement “shero ” for the month, demonstrating both the civic engagement and economic impact of our HBCUs in suburban locations.   

Montgomery County is recognized by many sources including WalletHub, as one of the most diverse counties in the United States. It also has the largest population in Maryland with more than one million residents. 

Resolving civic challenges in “MoCo’s” diverse communities always requires the County’s Black residents to be at the table along with Latino/a, Asian and East Indian voices. 

Moreover, according to recent data, Charles County Maryland is now reported to be the wealthiest Black county in America, surpassing their high-income earning District and Prince George’s County neighbors.   

Map of Prince George’s County, bordered by Montgomery County or “MoCo” to the North, Charles County to the South and the District to the East. The high cost of housing is forcing Black residents and other people of color to move out of major metropolitan areas to surrounding counties. (Courtesy Photo)

According to recent US census data, the once sleepy farming communities of Charles County, 18 miles south of Washington, D.C. represent  the perfect places  for current federal workers, recent retirees and others who have amassed wealth to take the short commute from Washington and relax in quiet homes and communities. 

With this change in the Charles County community, new challenges will come where the Black residents who moved out of the city for some peace and quiet will need to show up and “represent” as new neighbors seek common understandings.  

So, I’m going on out to the county too, y’all! 

I will be transitioning from the DMV editor’s role in August to bring you more stories about civic engagement and change in these and other Maryland communities. Black population growth is happening all over Maryland – one of 10 states with the largest Black populations in the nation. 

I will continue to write both national and local stories, as well as ensure our Maryland and D.C. area HBCU stories are told.  But, after covering Prince George’s elections last month and seeing a record number of Black candidates on the ballot from school board to sheriff, I’m looking forward to getting more county coverage in the AFRO – and telling the dynamic stories in Prince Georges, Montgomery and Charles counties and beyond. Where black growth is happening daily. 

Cause I always “wanna’ be where you are” as the late Michel Jackson would say.  

Thanks for a wonderful summer!  See you at the county fair this fall!

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!