Tremendous Value of the Great Migration

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The Great Migration was the enacted movement of six million African Americans from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere of the United States between the years of 1916 to 1970.It is historically divided between two periods: the first Great Migration, which occurred between 1916 and1930, when a bout 1.6 million individuals migrated from rural regions, and the Second Great Migration, from 1940 to 1970, with more than 5 million African Americans migrating. The reason for this interval is that the movement decelerated during the decade following the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

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However, these freed men were able to continue their mass departure soon after the Great Depression, due to the entry of the United States into World War II. For the most part ,this relocation, being “one of the most appalling consequences of two world wars,” as well as “the greatest migration movement in history; both voluntary and compulsory,”1had a vast influence in the life of African Americans, for through it, not only did they become more integrated in working matters and the public life, but also unenclosed new political and social paths, further reestablishing a success full black urban culture in the future. In the beginning of the Twentieth Century, more than nine type cent of African Americans lived in the predominantly rural Southern states, whilst only about eight percent in the North. During that period, “most blacks were sharecroppers and tenant farmers” who” remained vulnerable to exploitation. “The most compelling evidence is that “landowners often forced sharecroppers to accept artificially low prices for their crops,” although they would charge expensive prices for their products, including “seeds, tools, and groceries at the local stores they controlled.” Also, Negroes were subjected to mistreatment and deprivations in Southern industries, since “railroad contractors in the South” treated them, their black layers, “like prisoners.” An example of this abuse would be that “track layers were paid only once a month and forced to purchase food at the company commissary, where high prices claimed most of what they earned.”

In brief, blacks were confined to the “dirtiest and most grueling jobs.”2Continuously, asides from the unfair treatment they extensively tolerated, the South was no longer a profitable place, since it “had passed through a disastrous war, the effects of which so blighted the hopes of its citizens in the economic world that their land seemed to pass, so to speak, through a dark age. “At that point, only a few educated Negroes had reached the position of being satisfied in the South. The rest of the Negroes, including those eliminated from politics, however, “could not easily bring themselves around to thinking that they should remain there in a state of recognized inferiority, especially when during the eighties and nineties there were many evidences that economic as well as political conditions would become worse.”3Therefore, “the worsening world of white supremacy that arose in that period,”4as well as economic factors, were of the main reasons many African Americans began to move into Northern and Midwestern states, such as Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Furthermore, they were hoping to find jobs in steel mills, railroads, automobile factories, and meatpacking industries. Other reasons include that they were searching for better schools and educational opportunities, as well as social equality and recognition, to be more involved in the American culture.T his is reinforced in the books A Century of Negro Migration(1918), and What the Negro Thinks(1929), as through them, it is mentioned that in the North, “they earn more money than they have been accustomed to earn in the South. They are attracted also by the liberal attitude of some whites” in the aspect that it “gives the Negroes a liberty in northern centers which leads them to think that they are citizens of the country;”5Also, that “the Negro is not looking for “special privileges,” but for recognition by public authority of his right to enjoy equal privileges with other American citizens.”

Many of those who left the South were heading for larger Northern cities, including Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and later to Western cities as well, such as Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Phoenix. All these cities experienced significant surges in population, considering that nationwide, only 740,000 African Americans lived outside of the South in the 1900s. However, as the Twentieth Century progressed, this number eventually rose to more than 10 million living in other regions of the United States. Simultaneously,” the departure of these “thrifty and industrious” negroes was not spasmodic,” but rather “a steady drain of the best class of laborers that the South now has.”7Thismigration had numerous different ramifications for the nation, for as Negro populations increased, many Northern cities became progressively more integrated. African Americans began working alongside recent European immigrants, as well as other white residents, due to the need for employment that resulted from mass industrializations in factories, the growth of new railroads and automobiles, and new job opportunities from white Northerners going to war who are leaving their originally owned positions open. This migration is utterly influential in today’s world, since it was able to create a change by making the Negroes become more recognized and integrated in the American Society.

Initially, there were negative consequences of this movement, being that African Americans would experience racism in their new homes. For instance, in some neighborhoods, white residents moved to other places, in order tolive away from the Negroes. Also, “most African Americans could rent apartments only in areas that real estate agents and banks had designated as colored,” adding up to the statement that “African Americans suffered the highest rate of residential segregation of any minority group. This prompted many of them to grow pessimistic about achieving racial equality.”8However, “in the midst of all this, the Negro thrives…Above it all, his voice rises, singing; and above the note of his joy has become the symbol of our modern America.” To the Negroes, the white man occasionally seems a bit pathetic in his insistence upon keeping the worth of the Negro hidden, in refusing to “recognize skill and talent, honor and virtue, strength and goodness simply because it wears a black skin.

“Therefore, during the 1920s, an intellectual, social, and artistic awakening aiming to redefine the black culture emerged, which would eventually take place in New York, becoming known as the Harlem Renaissance. This crusade, a congregation of musicians, novelists, painters, and sculptors, between others, was “symbolized by the image of the “New Negro,” who would no longer be deferential to whites but who would display his or her independence through talent and determination.”10Over time, cities inhabited by them became important centers of African American culture. Negroes subsequently became important political constituencies in northern urban areas, where Democrats and Republicans generally supported efforts to end racial discrimination,”11whichgeneratedmoreacceptance to these individuals.

Nowadays, African Americans play a very active role in the current society of the United States, being that they have contributed in the establishment of businesses, political organizations, churches, and newspapers, amongst others. The Great Migration also contributed in turning the United States into a more interracial nation with more variety of cultures, religions, and set of beliefs, not only of African Americans, but also of other immigrants from diversified ethnic groups and forthcoming generations. All things considered, the Great Migration was a massive movement that has had an impact in the American society up to this day. Through it, African American individuals were determined to discover new economic opportunities, escape from Southern prejudice, and achieve social equality. Although Negroes had to resist long periods of racial segregation in their new cities at first, they remained persistent in their desire to be recognized, in terms of culture and capability, and were furtherly able to express themselves freely and become integrated, whilst obtaining active roles in occupations, society and politics.

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Tremendous Value Of The Great Migration. (2019, Oct 31). Retrieved February 8, 2023 , from

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