Along with increased foreign investment and high profile events, including the 1996 Olympic Games, a steady flow of immigrants and refugees in recent decades has turned Atlanta into an international city.
Today, nearly 15% of Metro Atlanta’s population is foreign born. Latin Americans and Asians comprise the largest portion of immigrants in the Atlanta area. This growth reflects a trend throughout the South and has often brought friction over work and public spaces.
Immigrants have had a profound impact on Atlanta’s business and culture, including the role of food and cross-cultural dining evinced by institutions such as the DeKalb Farmer’s Market and restaurants lining Buford Highway among many other locations. Immigrants are increasingly drawn to Atlanta’s suburbs, seeking affordable housing, good schools, and better proximity to jobs.
The Atlanta suburb of Clarkston has been a magnet for refugees, earning it the reputation as “the most diverse square mile in the country.” In 2015, the community population consisted of almost 45% foreign born residents— the highest in Georgia. Immigrants have become a major presence in the Atlanta area and continue to impact the politics, business, and culture of our increasingly diverse city.
Cover Image: Looking down Buford Highway, ca. 1991.
First Image: Courtesy of Georgia State University
Second Image: Courtesy Atlanta History Center
As Atlanta moved into the twentieth century, it was two separate cities, one white and one black, reflecting inherent inequality. Separate was not equal, as expressed in the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision Plessey v. Ferguson.