Great Migration

The Great Migration refers to the demographic shift of over six million African Americans from the rural South to the cities of the North, Midwest, and West from 1916 to 1970. In addition, a smaller number of African Americans also migrated to urban cities in the South such as Jacksonville and Miami, FL. As World War I in Europe reduced the steady flow of European migration to the US after 1914, the industrialized North, Midwest, and West faced a labor shortage. In their place, northern industries recruited African American laborers. Southern blacks headed north seeking better opportunities for their families and hoping to escape the social, political, and economic inequalities enforced by segregationist laws, known as Jim Crow laws. In moving to urban centers like New York, Chicago, and Detroit, African Americans fostered the growth of a new urban black culture including the Harlem Renaissance. The Great Migration also influenced a new era of African American political activism. Migration slowed during the Great Depression in the 1930s before rapidly increasing again during and after World War II. In 1900, ninety percent of the nation’s black population lived in the South with eighty percent living on farms. By 1970, that ratio fell to under fifty percent with only twenty-five percent of African Americans living in the South’s rural areas.

For More Information:

“Great Migration.” May 16, 2019. Accessed October 23, 2019,

Crew, Spencer R. “The Great Migration.” October 27, 2015. Accessed November 5, 2019,