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Race and Ethnicity in Tennessee

Tennessee the sixteenth-largest U.S. state by population has a racially and ethnically diverse population. As of 2020, White (Non-Hispanic) are the largest group in Tennessee followed by African Americans. 

also read about the Population of Tennessee

Ethnic and Racial Composition

In 2020, the White alone (non-Hispanic) population was the largest racial or ethnic group in Tennessee, comprising 70.91% of the total population. It was followed by the Black or African American population whose share was 15,68%.

Hispanic or Latino was the third largest group at 6.93%. Two or more races are at 3.57% & the Asian population was at 1.94%

The ethnic composition of Tennessee is as follows

Race and OriginActual PopulationPercentage 2020
White alone (non-Hispanic)4,900,24670.91%
Black or African American alone1,083,77215.68%
Hispanic or Latino479,1876.93%
Two or more races270,2233.91%
Asian alone134,3021.94%
Some Other Race alone23,9770.35%
American Indians and Alaska Natives alone15,5390.22%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders alone3,5940.05%

Source: US Census 2020

read about religion in Tennessee

*US Census recognized five racial categories (White, Black or African American, Asian American, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander) as well as people of two or more races. It also classified respondents as "Hispanic or Latino" or "Not Hispanic or Latino", identifying Hispanic and Latino as an ethnicity (not a race), which comprises the largest minority group in the nation.

Ancestry in Tennessee

As per Census Studies and estimate American, Irish, English, German, and Italian have made the five largest ancestry groups in Tennessee. 

In 2020, 12.8% of the population considered themselves to be of only American ancestry (regardless of race or ethnicity). Many of these were of English or Scotch-Irish descent; however, their families have lived in the state for so long that they choose to identify as having “American” ancestry or do not know their ancestry. Some of their ancestry dates to the original thirteen colonies.

The Largest Ancestry in Tennessee is as follows

8French (except Basque)96,8921.4%
9Subsaharan African95,6261.4%
17French Canadian17,3230.3%
18West Indian (excluding Hispanic origin groups)15,4170.2%

Source: US Census 2020

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European ancestry in Tennessee

Non-Hispanic Whites account for nearly 70.91% of Tennessee’s population. Irish, English, and German Americans have made up three of the largest European ancestry groups in Tennessee. As per the Census report, Irish Americans made up 8.8% of the population and numbered 600,478 members.

English Americans made up 8.7% of the population and numbered 591,184. German Americans made up 8.4% of the population and numbered 575,251 followed by Italian ancestry at 2.1% of the population and number 146,535.

For other European ancestry percentages please refer table above.

African Americans in Tennessee

The largest minority group in Tennessee are Blacks and African Americans, who include about one-fifth of the population. As of 2020, those of African ancestry accounted for 15.68% of Tennessee’s population. The Black population in Tennessee experienced considerable growth between 1990 and 2020, attributable to both natural increase and in-migration from other states.

Tennessee’s African American population is predominantly concentrated in urban areas such as Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville. However, Black residents can also be found in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas across the state.

Hispanics and Latinos in Tennessee

Hispanics and Latinos are the third-largest groups in Tennessee. Around 6.93% of Tennessee’s Population claims Hispanic or Latin American ethnicity. The Hispanic population in Tennessee is the 27th largest in the nation.  The state’s Hispanic population is expected to grow the fastest, expanding by nearly 400,000 people to make up about 10% of the state population by 2040.

Davidson County had the highest resident Hispanic population followed by Shelby County and Rutherford County. Montgomery, Hamilton, Knox, and Hamblen counties each had a sizeable Hispanic population.

Asian Americans in Tennessee

Asian Americans are a minority group in Tennessee. Americans of Asian descent formed 2% of the population. Its ethnic Asian population has grown rapidly since the late 1990s; the majority are Indian,  Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Korean.

Multi-Race in Tennessee

Multiracial individuals are also a visible minority in Tennessee. People identifying as multiracial form 3.91% of the population, and number around 404,910 people. 

Race and Ethnicity in Tennessee 2023 | Ethnicity in Tennessee