The “Great Migration” was a significant time in America. During this time, which spanned the late 1800's through the early 1900's, many African American people moved from the South to the North hoping to make better lives for themselves.
The Great Migration began in the 1870’s, when many freed slaves moved to escape sharecropping and their previous owners. This is generally considered the first wave of the migration.
The migration's second wave happened between 1890 and 1910. But, the period lasting from 1914 to 1929 is what historian's commonly call the Great Migration. During this time, 300,000-1,000,000 black residents left their homes in the South to move up to cities in the North, like Chicago and New York.
Most of these black people moved to find jobs and seek freedom. During this time, Chicago’s population grew by 148%, Cleveland’s by 307% and Detroit’s by 611%. Even in the North, however, black people could not move wherever they wanted.
In fact, many neighborhoods in Northern big cities wanted to maintain their reputations by remaining all white. This lead to the enactment of residential segregation laws. Due to the isolation they experienced because of these laws, black people started forming their own all black neighborhoods. One of the largest of these was Harlem in upper Manhattan. Home to the “Harlem Renaissance,” Harlem served as the epicenter of artistic and literary development in the African American community. In the 1920's, Harlem was actually considered the capital of black America.
The Great Migration is a very important period of American history. Throughout this time, many black migrants were able to pursue their dreams and re-locate to places where they and their families could experience more freedom as citizens.
[Sources: FamilyEducation; digitalhistory.uh.edu]