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Sam Smith, Brittany Smith and their daughter Erelah outside their Charlotte home. The Smiths moved to Charlotte looking for change and opportunity. They are part of an influx of African Americans to Mecklenburg County, where the African American population has ballooned by 64% since 2000. Swikar Patel for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Swikar Patel for NPR

Brittany Smith grew up mostly in Detroit, earning a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan. But when she and her then-boyfriend, Sam, began their careers, they ran into roadblocks. It was 2013, and Detroit was still struggling from the effects of the Great Recession. Sam Smith couldn’t find full-time work. His job as a

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