Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Charles Jaret - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Adia Harvey Wingfield - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Deirdre Oakley - Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Katherine Hankins - Committee Member


Recent research has uncovered a new phenomenon in some distressed areas, black gentrification. Black gentrification follows the same pattern as mainstream gentrification with one notable exception: In black gentrifying neighborhoods both the poor and working class residents who resided in the neighborhood prior to its “gentrification” and the new residents of greater economic means are black. An additional hallmark of black gentrification that distinguishes it from traditional gentrification is that black gentrifiers in black gentrifying neighborhoods often feel a responsibility or obligation to their lower income black neighbors. Prior to the economic downturn in the United States, some in-town Atlanta neighborhoods were undergoing black gentrification. Amidst the current mortgage foreclosure epidemic facing the U.S., distressed urban areas like the ones under study, which began to gentrify in the last ten to twenty years, can easily fall prey to mortgage fraud and/or further decline. Sustained revitalization efforts require that the neighborhoods maintain a critical density level; therefore, neighborhoods cannot afford to lose more citizens. My dissertation focuses on two historic, black gentrifying in-town Atlanta neighborhoods: the Old Fourth Ward and the West End. The Old Fourth Ward is the location of the birth home of one of Atlanta’s most celebrated sons, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The West End, once a center of black consciousness in the city, now boasts one of the highest mortgage fraud rates in the nation. Revitalization efforts in both communities are in jeopardy. This dissertation explores ways to strengthen social and economic cohesion in these gentrifying black communities. Specifically, I argue that attachment to the neighborhood space (something I term “place affinity”) has the potential to obviate social tensions in gentrifying black communities and bind residents to each other and the social space they all occupy.

Included in

Sociology Commons