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1.24.23 The Great Migration.pptx

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1.24.23 The Great Migration.pptx

  1. 1. The Great Migration
  2. 2. The Great Migration represented a sustained effort on the part of Black Americans to escape the stifling oppression of the Jim Crow South. Between 1916 and 1970, about six million Black residents left the rural South, the largest internal mass migration in U.S. history.
  3. 3. Source: Univ. of Washington
  4. 4. The Northern Black press played a major role in recruiting Black southerners to move North during the Great Migration, publishing job postings and rail schedules and documenting stories of the migrant experience. Key publications included the Chicago Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier, the New Amsterdam News, and the Philadelphia Tribune. The major papers boasted weekly circulation of more than 500,000 copies, with a readership several times higher. The Black Press
  5. 5. Union Terminal Railroad Depot Concourse, Jacksonville, Florida, 1921. Source: Florida Memory Particularly during World War I and World War II, Black migrants sought to leave the horrors of Jim Crow and seize economic opportunities in growing industries in the North and West.
  6. 6. “The Arthurs, an African American family moving to the urban North from the rural South, arrive in Chicago, Illinois, in 1920. The family left their hometown of Paris, Texas, after two family members were murdered.” (Chicago History Museum via Getty Images) In 1916, a factory worker in a Northern city could earn three times what might be possible working the land in the South. Though many imagined the North as a “promised land” free of Jim Crow’s overt racist oppression, they quickly realized that white supremacy was a defining feature of American life everywhere.
  7. 7. National Urban League Created from the merger of three similar organizations, the National Urban League (NUL) was founded in 1910, prior to the onset of the Great Migration, to help newcomers to Northern cities acclimate and find employment, housing, and other resources. It established chapters in many major cities and would play a large role in efforts to address housing discrimination during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
  8. 8. The Red Summer of 1919 Racial violence erupted in dozens of U.S. cities, including Chicago and Washington, sparked by resentment over competition for jobs and housing, as well as perceived violations of de facto segregation. These tensions were made worse by an economic recession and the return of soldiers from World War I, including many Black veterans who found they were treated no better as a result of their military service. Writer and activist James Weldon Johnson referred to this period of racial terror as “Red Summer.” New York Tribune (27 July 1919)
  9. 9. Chicago, Summer of 1919
  10. 10. Residential Segregation This map illustrates the racial demographics of Chicago in 1934, revealing a clear pattern of racial segregation in housing. Enforced by practices and customs such as restrictive housing covenants, rather than by law, so- called de facto ( “in fact”) segregation resulted in the concentration of most Black residents in the so-called “Black belt” on Chicago’s South side. Black residents generally preferred the term “Bronzeville,” coined by newspaper editor James Gentry.
  11. 11. Chicago tenement housing, 1941 As tens of thousands of Black Southern migrants arrived in Chicago in the early 1940s, housing in Black neighborhoods became increasingly scarce. Landlords were therefore able to charge exorbitant rents for poorly maintained, overcrowded units. In many cases, apartments were subdivided and occupied by multiple families, who would share a single bathroom in the hall. Residents were often forced to live without heat, adequate lighting, or running water. Rats were common and fires frequently broke out— caused by flammable construction materials and the use of kerosene lamps—in some years occurring nearly twice a day in Bronzeville.
  12. 12. “Negro family living in crowded quarters, Chicago, Illinois, April 1941.” Photo by Russell Lee
  13. 13. Novelist Richard Wright, a migrant from Natchez, Mississippi, documented the socioeconomic conditions in Chicago’s Black communities in his 1940 classic Native Son. In the literary style of naturalism, Wright’s story depicts the effects of poverty and racial oppression on Bigger Thomas, a Black man driven to commit murder in an effort to survive the system of white supremacy that structured every aspect of his environment.
  14. 14. The Harlem Renaissance (1920s) • During the 1920s, the Harlem section of New York was home to a flowering of Black culture: literature, art, music, and theater. Similar artistic movements occurred in Chicago, Washington, and other cities of the Great Migration. • Writer Alain Locke coined the term “New Negro” to refer to a new Black consciousness working to use art to capture the Black experience as a tool for Black liberation. • Key figures of the movement included Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Louis Armstrong, and Jacob Lawrence. • Jazz and blues music were central to the arts scene, and venues like the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater drew celebrities and crowds. • Many Black artists were sponsored or commissioned to work for white patrons, capturing glimpses of a Black experience often as rendered for white eyes.
  15. 15. By the 1930s, the nation’s largest Black community was in Harlem, New York, home to the NAACP, the UNIA, and the National Urban League. Photo: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
  16. 16. At the age of 23, painter Jacob Lawrence produced a collection of sixty prints known as The Migration Series (WPA, 1941). It documented the social and economic conditions of the Jim Crow South that pushed migrants to leave, and the harsh realities of race relations in the North, imagined by many would-be migrants to be a “promised land” free of racial oppression. The child of Southern migrants, Lawrence lived in Harlem. Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series (1941)
  17. 17. Discussion In groups of three or four, select one to two paintings to examine. Consider: • How does Lawrence tell a story in his paintings? • How does he portray the conditions of the South? • How does he portray the promise of the North? • What does he emphasize about the physical process of migration?

Editor's Notes

  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library (1168439)

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