The Great Migration was an impactful mass scale movement of African American families and individuals from their roots in the deep south to the more liberal cities within the Northeast, Midwest, and West. Despite problems they faced while leaving, hundreds of thousands of people left everything they knew and loved in the hopes of finding better opportunities for themselves and their descendants. Not only did The Great Migration result in a major shift in the national demographic, but it ultimately changed socioeconomic conditions for all United States citizens, black and white alike.
African American living conditions within the south were still extremely poor almost 100 years after the end of the Civil War. Due to regional and state legislation retaining the ability to make decisions surrounding civil rights, miniscule amounts of progress had been made. ‘Jim Crow’ laws both directly endangered black citizens and severely limited their rights, allowing whites to maintain dominance over social and economic conditions in the South. These laws included specifications such as the poll tax, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and segregation. The political conditions overall resulted in a stark, two-tiered system that placed blacks as second class citizens (Cassedy). Economic inequality also contributed to mistreatment of African American citizens. After the abolition of slavery, sharecropping became common. Sharecropping involved ex-slaves, or their descendants, renting land from plantation owners and farming it in exchange for high charges. A single bad year could tip the balance into utter destitution, whether from unbalance surrounding supply and demand, or crop loss stemming from climate extremes or pests. Overall...
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...n during the Migration laid groundwork for modern systematic inequality, such as redlining and housing subsidies for white districts (Adelmann). Overall, the Great Migration culminated in an enormous scale alteration of the human condition for blacks and whites alike in America.
Adelmann, Larry. "Racial Preferences for Whites: The Houses that Racism Built." PBS.org. Public Broadcasting Service, 29 June 2003. Web. 4 May 2014.
Cassedy, James G. "Prologue: Special Issue on Federal Records and African American History." Archives.gov. National Archives and Records Administration, Summer 1997. Web. 11 May 2014.
Crew, Spencer R. "The Great Migration of Afro Americans, 1915-40." BLS.gov. Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d. Web.
Wilkerson, Isabel. "Great Migration: The African-American Exodus North." NPR. National Public Radio, 13 Sept. 2012. Web. 6 May 2014.