Published on August 25th, 20120
The Great Remigration
A century ago, nine out of ten black Americans lived in the South, primarily in formerly Confederate states where segregation reigned. Then, in the 1920s, blacks began heading north, both to escape the racism of Jim Crow and to seek work as southern agriculture grew increasingly mechanized.
“From World War I to the 1970s, some six million black Americans fled the American South for an uncertain existence in the urban North and West,” writes journalist Isabel Wilkerson, the author of The Warmth of Other Suns. Principal destinations in the Great Migration, as the exodus came to be called, included Washington, D.C. (the first stop on the bus), Chicago, Detroit, and New York City. The Great Migration had tremendous political implications, both good and bad. It helped spur the civil rights movement, but it also trapped many blacks in urban ghettos.