Black people contested the boundaries of American democracy, demanded their rights as American citizens, and asserted their very humanity in ways both subtle and dramatic.
Recognizing the significance of World War I is essential to developing a full understanding of modern African-American history and the struggle for black freedom.
They frequently endured residential segregation, substandard living conditions, job discrimination, and in many cases, the hostilities of white residents.
Older black residents sometimes resented the presence of the new migrants, as neighborhoods became increasingly overcrowded and stigmatized as ghettos.
Between 19, roughly 500,000 black southerners packed their bags and headed to the North, fundamentally transforming the social, cultural, and political landscape of cities such as Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.
The Great Migration would reshape black America and the nation as a whole.The war directly impacted all African Americans, male and female, northerner and southerner, soldier and civilian.Migration, military service, racial violence, and political protest combined to make the war years one of the most dynamic periods of the African-American experience.When war erupted in Europe in August 1914, most Americans, African Americans included, saw no reason for the United States to become involved.This sentiment strengthened as war between the German-led Central Powers and the Allied nations of France, Great Britain, and Russia ground to a stalemate and the death toll increased dramatically.But, to the contrary, the Great Migration was a social movement propelled by black people and their desires for a better life.The Chicago , which circulated throughout the South, implored black people to break free from their oppression and take advantage of opportunities in the North.Even more influential were the testimonials and letters of the migrants themselves.Migrants relied on informal networks of family and friends to facilitate their move to the North.The southern justice system systematically denied them equal protection under the law and condoned the practice of vigilante mob violence.As an aspiring migrant from Alabama wrote in a letter to the Chicago , "[I] am in the darkness of the south and [I] am trying my best to get out." Wartime opportunities in the urban North gave hope to such individuals.