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African Americans in Wisconsin: Overview

"African American" or "black" refers to people having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.1 On this web page, the terms "African American" and "black" are used interchangeably. African Americans and other black residents of Wisconsin are a heterogeneous population, including African and Caribbean immigrants and residents. These diverse groups have varying levels of health status related to differences in economic, educational, geographic, social and cultural factors.

In July 2012, 43.1 million people in the United States were Black.2 They are the nation's second largest minority population, following the Hispanics/Latinos.3 In 2012, 83 percent of African Americans 25 years and older had earned at least a high school diploma, compared to 92 percent of the White population.4 More Black women than Black men had earned at least a bachelor's degree (20.7 percent compared with 16.4 percent); while among non-Hispanic Whites, a higher proportion of men than women had earned at least a bachelor's degree (33 percent and 32 percent, respectively).5 In 2012, the death rate in the U.S. was higher for African Americans than Whites for heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and homicide.6

Wisconsin Population7

Wisconsin's African American population totaled 348,308 in 2008, which was 6.1 percent of the state total of 5,672,297. The African American population increased 9.7 percent since the 2000 Census. Milwaukee County is home to 240,203 African Americans, comprising 69.4 percent of Wisconsin's African American population. This group is the largest racial minority group in Wisconsin.

Nearly 90 percent of Wisconsin's African American population lives in the following six counties, all of which are located in Southeastern or Southern Wisconsin:  Milwaukee, Dane, Racine, Kenosha, Rock, and Waukesha. When looking at African Americans as a percent of the total county population, Milwaukee County tops this list, with 25.6 percent.

Wisconsin's African American population is relatively young, with a median age of 28.4 years in 2008, compared to 38.2 years for the total state population (source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey.) Thirty-five percent of African Americans were under age 18, compared to 23 percent of the total Wisconsin population. Also, while 13 percent of Wisconsin's population was age 65 and older, only 6 percent of the African American population was 65 and older.


Health Facts


  1. Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Minority Health Report, 2001-2005, P-45716. (PDF)
  2. Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Minority Health Profile, created by the Minority Health Program.

Additional Information about African Americans in Wisconsin

Related Links

Last revised March 24, 2022