In 2002, within the city of Detroit there were 771,966 black residents, making up 81.2% of the population. That year it was also, out of all of the U.S. cities with 100,000 or more people, the city with the second highest percentage of black people. Southfield had a black population 42,259, and Pontiac 31,416. In 2002 the Michigan city with the highest percentage of black residents was Highland Park, with 93% of its population being black. For the 2010 census, African Americans made up 22.8% of total city and metropolitan area population in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties.
Among African Americans who moved to Detroit from the American South before the end of slavery were George and Richard DeBaptiste, who attended classes taught by Rev. Samuel H. Davis, the pastor at the Second Baptist Church in the city, and Marcus Dale, who attended the African Methodist Episcopal church led by Rev. John M. Brown and others. In the days before the civil war began, Detroit became an important location on the Underground Railroad. Local blacks involved in the work included Samuel C. Watson (who later opened a drug store in Detroit), William Whipper, Richard and George DeBaptiste, and others, while William Lambert, Laura Haviland, and Henry Bibb were also involved. Many Detroit African-Americans served in the American Civil War (1861-1865), and the 102nd Regiment United States Colored Troops was recruited in large part in Detroit.
After the war, African Americans formed an important political block in the city, led by Watson, George DeBaptist, John D. Richards, and Walter Y. Clark. Saginaw"s William Q. Atwood was an important figure outside of Detroit who influenced Detroit African American politics as well.
Before World War I, Detroit had about 4,000 black people, 1% of its population. In the 1890s, journalist and founder of the black paper, Detroit Plaindealer, Robert Pelham Jr. and lawyer D. Augustus Straker worked in Detroit throughout the state to create branches of the National