This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Revisiting the Great Migration

The New York Times features an interview with Isabel Wilkerson, who has just published a book on the Great Migration of blacks out of the south beginning at the end of World War I and continuing through the 1960s, at which point it began to reverse itself in the "New Great Migration." The book is titled "The Warmth of New Suns" (Random House, 2010) and, at 622 pages it is not a short read, but then she did take more than ten years to write it! The Great Migration was an important part of the urbanization of the African-American population and certainly contributed to the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Ms. Wilkerson is a "daughter" of that migration in that her parents left the South and met and married in Washington, DC where she grew up. From there she went to Chicago, and now has participated in the "new" Great Migration by returning to her roots in Georgia. An important insight about the Great Migration came to her in an integrated school she attended in Washington, DC--her parents sending her there daily in a cab because it was across town from where they lived:

Many of the other pupils were children of diplomats or descended from immigrants to the United States. “I often felt left out because I didn’t have a story to tell,” Ms. Wilkerson said. “It took me a while to realize that people like me are descended from people who made a similar passage for similar reasons, with the same hopes and longings as the people who crossed the Atlantic in steerage.”

1 comment:

  1. When only considering the climate of both regions, it is hard to fathom why anyone would opt to head to areas with more sever weather patterns. We as a nation need to remember that not only was there an economic pull-factor in place during this initial migration, but push-factors such as Jim Crow laws, segregation, and the Ku Klux Klan played a role in the initial migration. Now with rust belt trying to reinvent itself, and the diminishing injustices in the south, it is a reassuring sign of social progress when African American families are comfortable enough to return to a sunnier place from which they were previously expelled.

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