According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 35.9 km² (13.9 mi²). 34.2 km² (13.2 mi²) of it is land and 1.7 km² (0.6 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 4.62% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 18,464 people, 7,591 households, and 4,858 families residing in the city. The population density is 540.1/km² (1,398.3/mi²). There are 8,479 housing units at an average density of 248.0/km² (642.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 44.18% White, 54.49% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 0.63% from two or more races. 0.70% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 7,591 households out of which 29.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.6% are married couples living together, 23.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.0% are non-families. 32.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.37 and the average family size is 3.00.
In the city the population is spread out with 26.5% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 24.3% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 18.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 38 years. For every 100 females there are 81.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 76.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $25,117, and the median income for a family is $29,723. Males have a median income of $31,323 versus $20,829 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,868. 28.6% of the population and 25.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 41.6% are under the age of 18 and 23.3% are 65 or older.