Census Finds Least Diverse Part of Nation

ByABC News
April 10, 2001, 6:50 AM

April 10 -- America, the melting pot.

Most of it, anyway.

According to the Census Bureau, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire all have mostly white populations in fact, at least 96 percent of the population of each state is white.

According to John Tucker of the Peace and Justice Center in Burlington, Vt., African-Americans find it hard to live in the states. Tucker said the small number of people with the same background combined with a lack of job opportunities and cultural offerings keep minority populations away.

Breaking the Color Barrier

Tucker, an African-American himself, said being black in Vermont today is like being Jackie Robinson when he broke baseball's color barrier.

"They are evaluated differently," he said. "They're put under great pressure and that certainly happened to Jackie Robinson for the first two years after his entry into baseball."

He said blacks who move to New England are pioneers, much like the baseball great.

"Some of the most courageous people in America are these small black communities that exist in rural outposts, who are trying to pave the way for growing diversity," he said.

One theory for the lack of diversity in the region: northern New England didn't have the same kinds of industries that drew African-American workers from the South in the 1930s and 1940s.

The 10 Whitest States

In all, 10 states are more than 90 percent white, including the three northern New England states, West Virginia, Iowa, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Kentucky and North Dakota.

Maine tops the nation with 96.9 percent of its population described as white, while 96.7 percent of Vermont and 96 percent of New Hampshire are white, according to the census. All three were at least 98 percent white in the 1990 census.

Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana, Maryland and Georgia had the smallest percentage of whites, according to the census.

Full results of the 2000 census are being released piecemeal.

ABCNEWS Radio contributed to this report.