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The an excellent Migration to be the relocation of an ext than 6 million afri Americans indigenous the rural south to the cities of the North, Midwest and West from around 1916 to 1970. Driven from their homes by unsatisfactory economic opportunities and also harsh segregationist laws, plenty of Black Americans top north, whereby they took advantage of the require for industrial workers that occurred during the first World War. During the good Migration, african Americans started to develop a brand-new place because that themselves in public life, proactively confronting racial prejudice as well as economic, political and also social obstacles to produce a black color urban society that would exert massive influence in the decades to come.

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What led to the good Migration?


After the civil War and also the reconstruction era, racial inequality persisted across the South throughout the 1870s, and the segregationist policies well-known as “Jim Crow” soon became the regulation of the land.

Southern Black world were compelled to make their living working the land because of Black codes and the sharecropping system, which offered small in the method of financial 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 actually been officially dissolved in 1869, the KKK ongoing underground after ~ that, and also intimidation, violence and also even lynching of black color southerners were not uncommon methods in the Jim crow South.


Did friend know? about 1916, when the good Migration began, a factory wage in the metropolitan North was frequently three times more than what Black civilization could suppose to make functioning the land in the rural South.

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

The great Migration Begins

When civilization War I broke out in Europe in 1914, established urban areas in the North, Midwest and also West confronted a shortage of industrial laborers, as the war put an end to the stable tide that European immigrant to the unified States. 

With war production kicking right into high gear, recruiters enticed afri Americans come come north, come the dismay the white Southerners. Black color newspapers—particularly the widely review Chicago Defender—published advertisements touting the opportunities obtainable in the cities of the North and West, together with first-person accounts of success.


Great Migration: Life for Migrants in the City

By the end of 1919, part scholars estimate that 1 million Black civilization had left the South, normally traveling by train, watercraft or bus; a smaller number had actually automobiles or also horse-drawn carts. 

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


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Many new arrivals uncovered jobs in factories, slaughterhouses and also foundries, whereby working problems were arduous and also sometimes dangerous. Female migrants had a harder time finding work, spurring cook competition for domestic labor positions.


Aside indigenous competition because that employment, over there was also competition for living space in progressively crowded cities. While segregation was no legalized in the north (as it remained in the South), racism and also prejudice were nonetheless widespread.

After the U.S. Supreme Court declared racially based real estate ordinances unconstitutional in 1917, part residential areas enacted covenants request white building owners come agree no to offer to black color people; this would stay legal until the Court win them down in 1948.

Rising rents in segregated areas, to add a revival of KKK activity after 1915, worsened Black and white relations across the country. The summer the 1919 began the greatest period of interracial strife in U.S. Brianowens.tv at the time, including a disturbing wave of gyeongju riots.


The most serious was the Chicago race Riot of 1919; it lasted 13 days and also left 38 world dead, 537 injured and also 1,000 Black families without homes.

READ MORE: just how a new Deal real estate Program imposed Segregation

Impact that the great Migration

As a an outcome of real estate tensions, countless Black residents finished up creating their very own cities within large cities, fostering the development of a new urban, african American culture. The many prominent example was Harlem in new York City, a formerly all-white neighborhood that through the 1920s housed some 200,000 afri Americans.

The black color experience during the great Migration became critical theme in the imaginative movement known first as the brand-new Negro Movement and also later as the Harlem Renaissance, i beg your pardon would have an enormous influence on the culture of the era.

The an excellent Migration likewise began a brand-new era of increasing political activism among African Americans, that after gift disenfranchised in the South found a new place for themselves in publicly life in the cities of the North and also West. The civil rights movement straight benefited indigenous this activism.

Black migrate slowed substantially in the 1930s, as soon as the country sank right into the an excellent Depression, however picked increase again with the coming of human being War II and the need for wartime production. Yet returning black color soldiers found that the GI bill didn’t always promise the same postwar services for all.

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By 1970, when the good Migration ended, that is demographic impact was unmistakable: vice versa, in 1900, nine out of every 10 black Americans lived in the South, and three the end of every four lived ~ above farms, by 1970 the south was house to only half of the country’s african Americans, with just 20 percent living in the region’s rural areas. The good Migration was famously recorded in Isabel Wilkerson’s The warmth of various other Suns: The epic Story the America’s an excellent Migration.