The Great Migration (1916-1960) – Story of the Mass Movement

0 Posted by - March 11, 2023 - BLACK EDUCATION, Black History, BLACK MEN

The Great Migration is remembered as the mass movement of around five million Southern Blacks towards the north and west side of the country. This movement took place between 1916 and 1960 and was one of the major movements of all times. During the initial period of the movement, the majority of the Black migrants moved towards the northern cities of the country such as Illinois, Chicago, Michigan, Detroit, Pennsylvania, Pittsburg, and New York. During World War II, the migration continued towards the north, but some of the migrants headed towards the west to Oakland, Los Angeles, California, San Francisco, Oregon, Portland, and Seattle, Washington.

It was during World War I when the first large movement of Black migrants took place. There were around 454,000 Blacks from the south that moved to the north. During the 1920s, another batch of 800,000 Black migrants left the south of the country, followed by another batch of 398,000 Black migrants in the early 1930s. Between the years 1940 and 1960, over 3,348,000 Black migrants traveled to western and northern cities of the country.

The motivation that forced the migrants was to achieve better economic conditions and a promise to get better prosperity in the northern region. Since Black has suffered a lot in the South and went through severe slavery from the time they landed in America, they always had poor chances of advancement. They went through pathetic segregation rules in all sectors of life.  While, some of the Blacks got lucky enough to buy land, in which most were tenant farmers, sharecroppers, and farm labors. During World War I, when a huge demand for workers was created in the factories, Black took this opportunity and moved to the north to avail this once in a lifetime chance.

The demand for the workers in the northern region was a result of 5 million men who left their jobs to participate in the armed forces, as well as there was a restriction of the foreign migration. Some divisions of the economy were so desperate for the workers that they were ready to pay Black to move to the north. The Pennsylvania Railroad project required so many workers, and that’s why they paid all the travel expenses for about 12,000 Black workers. Similarly, the Illinois Central Railroad project, along with many factories, mills, and tanneries, required Blacks and were provided with free railroad passes. Black labor got in demand since World War I, and this times it was outside the southern region of the country. This migration somehow improved the quality time and conditions of the African-Americans living in America.

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