The Great Migration : 1915-1960

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Between 1915 and 1960, the Great Migration, a mass migration of about five million southern black people to the north and west of the United States, took place in four waves. Before World War Two, many black families migrated to northern cities including Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Phippsburg, Pennsylvania; and New York City, New York. As World War Two began, western movement to cities including Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and major cities in California began (“The Great Migration (1915-1960)”). The racial demographics established by the Great Migration are still abundantly evident today given that the available transportation directed groups of southern blacks to specific areas of the country. For example, the majority of the black population in Chicago has familiar roots in Arkansas and Mississippi (Goodman). The Great Migration offered an opportunity to escape the oppressive economic positions and social barriers of the Jim Crow Era South (“The Great Migration (1915-1960)”). Isabel Wilkerson elegantly described this time in history as having been “a declaration of independence in the true sense of the word. It was the Emancipation Proclamation actually put into effect by the people themselves, because it had not been lived up to in the south. (Goodman)” Black people not only uprooted themselves because of the perpetuated racism in the south, but also because World War One brought immense job opportunities in the north, as five million men went to war

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