Beginning in 1870 and ending in 1910, large groups of African Americans moved from the southern United States to the North. This mass movement was called the ''Great Migration.''
Up to 1,000,000 freed African Americans moved because they needed to escape the oppressive sharecropping system in the South. They also wanted to find jobs and seek true freedom. The migrants sought to follow their dreams so their children could experience better lives and more freedom as citizens.
Those who were a part of the Great Migration moved to several northern cities including Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit. During this era, Chicago's population grew by 148 percent, Cleveland's by 309 percent, and Detroit's by 611 percent.
Unfortunately, African Americans were not always welcome when they moved to other cities. Many white neighborhoods wanted to remain white and actively prevented African Americans from moving to their new homes. This ultimately led to the widespread creation of segregation laws that kept black and white people separated. As a result of these laws, some African Americans created their own neighborhoods, like Harlem in New York, which eventually became a cultural center for the arts.
The Great Migration is important because it is a significant part of both African American history and our nation's history as a whole.
[Source: Simpson Street Free Press Archives]