How Southern Landowners Tried to Restrict the Great Migration

When more than six million African Americans left the South for better opportunities in the North and West, between 1916 and 1970, their relocation changed the demographic landscape of the United States and much of the workforce. agricultural work in the South. This decades-long multigenerational movement of black Americans known as the Great Migration had such an impact on the Southern workforce that white landowners resorted to coercive tactics to prevent African Americans leaving.

After Reconstruction ended in 1877, Jim Crow’s segregation became law throughout the South, limiting the political, economic, and social mobility of African Americans. According to The Heat of Other Suns: The Epic Tale of the Great American Migration, A Comprehensive History of Migration by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Isabel Wilkerson, in 1900, nine in 10 black Americans lived in the South and three in four lived on farms. Despite a concerted effort by white southern landowners to keep them, by 1970 nearly half of all African Americans, about 47%, were believed to be living outside the South.

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