Essay On The Great Migration

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The Great Migration

The Great Migration occurred between 1915 and the year 1970, and it involved the migration of over 6 million African Americans from South cities to the North of the country. The Great Migration resulted into what can be described as a shift in massive demographic shifts across the United States. It is, in fact, important to understand that indeed between the year 1910 and the year 1930, cities such as Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Detroit experienced growth populations by about 40% (Lakova 28). Further, it is critical to understand that the number of African-Americans that were employed in industries doubled. Black Americans were trying to escape racism and Jim Crow laws that existed in the South. The African-Americans understood that there existed jobs in the North and that there existed Western Steel Mills, railroad companies as well as tanneries.

These were industries that would provide employment for this vast population. It is of the essence to understand that during the first wave of the Great Migration, most African-Americans were able to settle in urban areas such as Detroit, Chicago, New York as well Pittsburgh. However, when World War II broke out, African Americans changed their tactics, and they started migrating into cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Most African Americans believed that they need to find new opportunities, social and economic freedom, a spirit to seize as well as have a chance to improve their conditions (Lakova 21). In fact, with each success wave of the migration, the movement of African Americans became a mass movement towards a more democratic chance.

The Great Migration enabled more African-Americans to exercise their right to vote under the fifteenth amendment. Although the fifteenth amendment had also taken place in South, the white southerners had been able to pass legislation which in turn prevented African-Americans from exercising this important right (Peterson 21). In fact, by the year 1908, more than ten Southern States had already rewritten their constitutions to restrict voting rights through grandfather clauses, poll taxes as well as literacy taxes. All these laws were intended to make sure that African-Americans did not vote. However, it is important to understand that this was not the case when it came the Northern States; they allowed African Americans to vote (Lakova 15).

Further, also to not having the right to vote, it is critical to understand that African Americans were also segregated in the South. In fact, it is critical to understand that in the year 1896, the case of Plessy V. Ferguson case made it legal in the United States to enforce the separate but equal public facilities that included water fountains, public schools as well as restroom facilities. However, the African Americans that existed in the North America did not enforce most of these laws, and the African Americans that lived in the South had known about this situation (Peterson 63). Therefore, they craved a life where they would be able to be adequately treated equally and feel that they are more humans.

African Americans were more peaceful in the North as a result of the Great Migration. They were able to feel more peaceful because, in the South, African-Americans were subjected to several various acts of terror that was caused by white Southerners. In fact, it is critical to understand that there was the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan which argued that it was only White Christians that were entitled to civil rights in the United States (Egger 12). In the South, as a result of several white supremacist groups, African American Men and women were murdered by lynching, setting fire to their properties and homes as well as bombing churches that had African Americans (Lakova 29).

As a result of World War I, there was a shortage of men in factories in the Northern and Midwestern cities. Therefore, it is of the essence to understand that as a result of the migration more African Americans were able to find work. There was an extreme shortage of workers and the Black Americans felt that indeed they would able to cover the shortage. It is critical to understand that more than five million workers were enlisted in the Army, and secondly, the United States government was able to halt immigration from European countries (Peterson 36). Most African-Americans that lived in the South had been severely affected with the shortage of farm work. Therefore, most of them were responded to the call of employment agents that were living in the Midwest and the North (Jefferson 18). The agents from the different industrial sectors arrived in the South and enticed the African American women and men to migrate North by paying travel expenses. Therefore, the movement of the Great Migration led to better educational as well as housing options as well as experiencing high pay as compared to the wages that they were being given in the South (Jefferson 20).

The Great Migration was also a factor when it came to changing African American Music. As a result of the Migration, the Harlem Renaissance was ushered in and there a new movement in terms of Art, music and literature (Jefferson 33). This renaissance was able to present an idea of the ‘new Negro’, a person that was able to overcome racism as well as oppression and thereby present his intellect through the production of the arts. Music and art led to the uplifting of the race and it, therefore, led to musical advancements that included a development to Jazz music. Further, it is of importance to understand that the Renaissance thrived and there was the creation of new ways of playing music in the creation of Harlem stride style, a modern style that involved the playing of Piano in a new manner (Ananat 41).

In fact, the Great Migration had a huge impact when it came to Jazz music. The migration led to a lot of jobs as well as prosperity for majority of African Americans and this reason, more people were able to buy records as well as listen to different and divers music in their homes. This greatly intensified the spreading of jazz music. Further, as a result of the great migration, more musicians were exposed to better education that leads to an increment in their musical abilities (Peterson 49). Consequently, there is an importance in understanding that the great migration was able to lead to the development of music, and it created new methods in music for the African Americans. The writing of freedom songs from Jazz was important as they were able to inspire people to fight for their rights. The songs produced during the Great movement were esthetically pleasing to most African Americans, and they served as what could be described as a rallying flag for the culture.


Ananat Elizabeth, The wrong side(s) of the tracks : estimating the causal effects of racial segregation on city outcomes. 2007. Sage. Print.
Lakova Dora., Herd Effects and Migration. 1998. John Wiley & Sons. Print.
Egger Peter, The trade effects of skilled versus unskilled Migration. 2012. Center for economic Research. Print.
Peterson J. African American Migration in the United States and its effects. 2013. John Wiley & Sons. Print.
Jefferson Immanuel. Encyclopedic Approach to the Great Migration. 2010. Sage: Print.