The early urban centers of African American life in the South that followed the abolition of slavery and disintegration of plantation life have seldom been investigated with respect to the development of African American English. This study examines precisely those sites looking at AAE in three Southern urban centers during the time of Jim Crow: Birmingham, Memphis, and New Orleans. These data contribute to the continuing study and scholarship on the historical development of AAE, providing the first multi-community overview of core AAE linguistic variables from the early urban South. The trans-regional similarities of linguistic variables in AAE speakers are often attributed to the influence of early Southern English varieties. These data confirm the early presence of these variables in African American urban centers in the South, but also suggest how language ideologies relate to dialect development.