The Great Migration is widely regarded as one of the most major turning points in American history, particularly in the history of African Americans, which began in the 1900s. It is thought to be the world’s greatest and fastest human migration that was not triggered by immediate danger or conflict. The causes of the Great Migration, on the other hand, are still highly important and cannot be overlooked.
The Great Migration, also known as the Great Northward Migration, was a massive movement of African Americans from Southern America to the more urbanized northern parts of the country that began in the 1900s and ended in the 1970s, with a break in the migration in the 1930s due to the Great Depression.
In Southern America, especially in the Black Belt, the African American population was enormous (the most fertile lands). After being brought in from Africa as slaves to work on plantations, generations of families have lived in the same places for many years. African Americans were no longer obligated by law or any other kind of contract to labor as slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and for the first time in their lives could make their own options about what to do with their life.
Jim Crow had quickly supplanted slavery by the 1870s, and African Americans faced severe segregation and prejudice. Because of the inaccessibility of basic requirements and facilities due to their skin color, African Americans non the south found life to be similarly challenging, and the great migration of over 1.5 million African Americans to the north began in 1900.
The Great Migration is seen as a silent protest by African Americans, a demonstration that when given the choice, they chose the best option, no matter how difficult or far away it was. While many elderly African Americans chose to remain in the south, the younger generation, hungry for success and the finer things in life, chose to relocate in quest of something better. Other motivations for the relocation included the desire for better-paying work following World War II, unfair labor practices, and better schools and education.
During the first Great Migration (1900s-1930s), people moved from rural areas in the south to urban areas in the north, including Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Many white neighborhoods were quickly occupied by African Americans, particularly when the majority of racist whites, who referred to the Great Migration as the Great Invasion, chose to leave their homes and villages rather than stay and work with African Americans. For this reason, locations like Harlem and Detroit have more black residents than white residents.
The Great Migration changed the course of African-American history. For one thing, African Americans who made the great and brave move were looking for more than just financial security; they also had a burning desire to express themselves creatively and be a part of the intellectual society. They were so determined to be a part of it that racism, especially in urban areas, had no effect on them.
African Americans were not only exceeding the odds and surviving in the North’s urban centers, but they were also growing more self-aware and creating a cultural space for themselves, which became known as the Harlem Renaissance or Black Renaissance.
The Harlem Renaissance, sometimes known as the Black Renaissance, began in Harlem, New York, where many creative and intellectually hungry African Americans settled. The movement quickly swept across northern America, and it represented a turning point in the development of black culture in music, literature, visual arts, theater, intellectual discourse, commerce, and religion. African Americans started their own newspapers, businesses, political organizations, theaters, cultural groups, and churches, which eventually became a global phenomenon.
To establish their space and voice in the world, African Americans swiftly learned the art of staying together, defending and supporting one another, as well as collectively projecting one another.
African Americans had a significant impact on many aspects of American life, including education, athletics, music, and the entertainment industry as a whole, which continues to this day. Some of the world’s most famous people, such as Toni Morison, James Baldwin, Bill Russel, and Earl Jones, were presented to the world as a result of the Great Migration.
The rapid drop in the stock market that led to the Great Depression of 1929-1939 put a halt to African American migration, but by that time, the African American population had risen and transformed dramatically. They received respect and attention despite overcoming prejudice and discrimination as the lowest of the human race.
The Great Migration provided African Americans with several chances in Europe and served to establish a link between blacks in the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe.
The second Great Migration began in the 1940s, just after the stock market recovered from the Great Depression, and lasted until the 1970s. By that time, the Black Renaissance had faded, but African Americans had established themselves in urban centers and had begun to play key roles in the country, breaking down barriers and producing high-quality music, literature, and scholarly findings in all subjects. The Civil Rights Movement had already begun, and African Americans were now focused on ending racism and injustice against black people.
Findings and accounts from more recent times indicate that the ‘third Great Migration,’ which is a reversal of the previous two, is underway. African Americans are gradually returning to their ‘original’ homes in the south of the United States, albeit the movement will not be as large as the Great Migration.
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