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The an excellent Migration was the relocation of much more than 6 million afri Americans from the rural southern to the urban of the North, Midwest and also West from about 1916 come 1970. Moved from their dwellings by unsatisfactory financial opportunities and harsh segregationist laws, many Black Americans headed north, wherein they took benefit of the need for commercial workers that arose during the very first World War. During the good Migration, african Americans began to build a brand-new place because that themselves in publicly life, proactively confronting racial prejudice and also economic, political and also social challenges to develop a black urban society that would certainly exert substantial influence in the years to come.

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What led to the an excellent Migration?


After the civil War and also the repair era, racial inequality persisted throughout the South during the 1870s, and the segregationist policies recognized as “Jim Crow” soon came to be the law of the land.


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Southern Black world were compelled to make their living working the land because of Black codes and also the sharecropping system, i beg your pardon offered tiny in the means of economic opportunity, especially after chop damage resulting from a regional boll weevil infestation in the 1890s and early 1900s.


And when the Ku Klux Klan had been officially dissolved in 1869, the KKK continued underground after that, and also intimidation, violence and even lynching of black color southerners were not uncommon techniques in the Jim crow South.


Did you know? approximately 1916, when the great Migration began, a factory wage in the metropolitan North was commonly three times more than what Black world could expect to make working the soil in the countryside South.

READ MORE: how the black color Codes limited African American progress After the civil War

The an excellent Migration Begins

When world War I broke out in Europe in 1914, developed urban areas in the North, Midwest and also West confronted a shortage of commercial laborers, together the war placed an finish to the secure tide the European immigrant to the united States. 

With war manufacturing kicking right into high gear, recruiters enticed afri Americans to come north, come the dismay of white Southerners. Black color newspapers—particularly the widely review Chicago Defender—published advertisements touting the opportunities easily accessible in the urban of the North and also West, along with first-person accounts of success.


Great Migration: Life because that Migrants in the City

By the end of 1919, some scholars estimate that 1 million Black human being had left the South, typically traveling by train, watercraft or bus; a smaller sized number had automobiles or also horse-drawn carts. 

In the decade in between 1910 and 1920, the Black population of major Northern cities grew by large percentages, including new York (66 percent), Chicago (148 percent), Philadelphia (500 percent) and also Detroit (611 percent).

Many brand-new arrivals discovered jobs in factories, slaughterhouses and foundries, whereby working conditions were arduous and also sometimes dangerous. Mrs migrants had actually a harder time finding work, spurring cook competition for domestic labor positions.


Aside indigenous competition for employment, there was likewise competition for living an are in increasingly crowded cities. While distinction was no legalized in the north (as it was in the South), racism and prejudice were nevertheless widespread.

After the U.S. Supreme Court claimed racially based housing ordinances unconstitutional in 1917, part residential communities enacted covenants requiring white property owners come agree not to market to black people; these would remain legal until the Court win them down in 1948.

Rising rents in segregated areas, to add a resurgence of KKK activity after 1915, worsened Black and also white relations throughout the country. The summer that 1919 began the greatest duration of interracial strife in U.S. Background at the time, including a disturbing tide of race riots.


The many serious was the Chicago gyeongju Riot of 1919; the lasted 13 days and also left 38 world dead, 537 injured and also 1,000 Black households without homes.

READ MORE: exactly how a new Deal housing Program implemented Segregation

Impact of the great Migration

As a result of housing tensions, numerous Black residents ended up producing their own cities within big cities, promoting the development of a new urban, afri American culture. The most prominent example was Harlem in brand-new York City, a previously all-white community that by the 1920s housed part 200,000 african Americans.

The black color experience during the good Migration became vital theme in the artistic movement known an initial as the new Negro Movement and later together the Harlem Renaissance, i beg your pardon would have actually an enormous influence on the society of the era.

The good Migration likewise began a brand-new era of enhancing political activism amongst African Americans, who after being disenfranchised in the South uncovered a brand-new place because that themselves in publicly life in the urban of the North and also West. The civil rights movement directly benefited from this activism.

Black hike slowed substantially in the 1930s, once the nation sank right into the great Depression, however picked increase again with the coming of human being War II and also the require for wartime production. But returning black color soldiers discovered that the GI bill didn’t constantly promise the very same postwar benefits for all.

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By 1970, when the good Migration ended, its demographic influence was unmistakable: whereas in 1900, nine the end of every 10 black color Americans lived in the South, and three out of every 4 lived top top farms, through 1970 the south was house to only fifty percent of the country’s african Americans, with only 20 percent living in the region’s landscape areas. The great Migration to be famously captured in Isabel Wilkerson’s The warm of various other Suns: The epos Story the America’s great Migration.