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African Americans in Davenport, Iowa

African Americans in Davenport, Iowa are the third largest black community in Iowa, with a history reaching back before the Civil War.

The Davenport, Iowa Metropolitan area straddles the Mississippi River and a state line in a quintet of cities called the Quad Cities. The Quad-Cities, with Davenport as its largest member, has for years been one of four cities that have been home to a majority of the state"s black population. The other three being Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, these cities comprised 55.2% of Iowa"s black population.[1]

Of a total 2008 U.S. Census estimated population of 99,514,[2] 9.2 percent - or 9,200 citizens are African-American. For comparison, the average African-American population in Iowa cities is 2.5 percent.[3] In recent history, Davenport has been home to the third largest - in absolute numbers and percentage - African-American community in Iowa, behind Des Moines (16,025 in 2000, 13,164 in 1980) and Waterloo (9,529 in 2000, 8,398 in 1980). In 2000 9,093 (9.3%) of Davenport"s population was African-American, up from 6,229 in 1980.[4] United States Census Bureau estimates between 2005 and 2007 showed a somewhat larger community in Davenport: 11,300 or almost 12 percent of the city.[5]

The African-American population of Davenport can be traced back to at least the 1830s. Dred Scott, whose legal fight for freedom culminated in the 1857 Dred Scott Decision of the United States Supreme Court, lived in Davenport as he followed his master to various military postings in the Midwest. Residing in free states and territories, including his stay in Davenport in 1834-36, was the basis for Scott"s legal arguments. A plaque now marks the spot where Scott lived.[6]

Davenport saw two major periods of African-American migration; the first, in the years up to and including the Civil War; the second, in the early 20th century. In the 19th century, African Americans fleeing both slavery and the Civil War came to Davenport because it was a major port on the

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