African Americans - Great Migration

  • Created by: Pip Dan
  • Created on: 20-09-17 13:51


The Great Migration was a series of large migrations from the south of America to the north, principally by African-Americans. 6 million African-Americans moved from the south of America to the north over the Great Migration which lasted for roughly the first half of the 20th century. It was the largest ever voluntary migration (not caused by famine, violence or genocide). The main motivation to move north was because of economic opportunities, but there were some socio-cultural push factors as well because of the huge racism in the south which had the Jim Crow Laws.

Up until the outbreak of WWI most African-Americans lived in the south. At the end of the Civil War there 4.5 million African-Americans living in the United States, less than 8% of those live in the north which left 92% of them living in the south. By 1900, this hadn't changed much with 10% of African-Americans now in the north but still 90% in the south. There were many reasons why people stayed where they and their families had lived since the end of the Civil War:

  • Most of them didn't have the means to move, in terms of finances and transport
  • There was no Government policies or support to urge people to move north
  • Mostly of the African American community didn't have a strong education and so understanding of benefits of moving and how to do so was limited
  • Of course family and cultural links remained in the south where most African-Americans were sharecropping

However, at the outbreak of WWI in America the benefit of economic opportunities was enough to convince 1 million African-Americans to move north. This opportunities were largely created by the war which caused an increase in industrialisation, particularly in factory production, which was for the war effort. The vacancies also left by men in these factories who had gone off to fight left jobs which African-Americans journeyed across the country to take. Most of the time they got up there independently but there were some payed agents who went down to recruit employees in the south and then payed for their transportation northwards. Factories were of course usually located in cities and hence why  2/3 of African Americans who migrated north went to the eight major cities there. This changed after WWII, where Western cities also are migrated into but, of course, this migration into urban areas remained.

Migration continued into the 1920s where 2.5 million African Americans moved north again in search for job opportunities which remained very high as the American economy prospered. There were also opportunities because of immigration policy. The more nativist immigration meant less cheap labour for employers from abroad, which left them needing to employ Americans. This increase in migration inevitably stopped when the Great Depression hit, due to the lack of economic opportunities there was no longer a strong pull factor for African-Americans to move to the north.

However, like WWI had, WWII again increased economic opportunities in the north which led…


No comments have yet been made