Friday, December 3, 2010
12:15 PM | Edit Post
While many black Arkansans in the 1890s dreamed of a prejudice free homeland in Liberia, between 1900 and 1920, thousands of black Arkansans opted for a move North as part of the “Great Migration” of Southern blacks. Urban centers, like Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit, offered a diversified economy, higher wages, and a higher threshold of racial tolerance. Black Southerners exited the regional agricultural labor market of the South and, for the first time in large numbers, entered into the nation’s labor market. For instance, the black population in Chicago, the home of the Chicago Defender, a pro-migration black newspaper, grew from 44,000 in 1910 to 109,000 in 1920 and 234,000 in 1930, when the city had more Mississippi-born residents than any place outside of Mississippi. Regionally, the labor hungry Arkansas Delta still drew in black migrants; however, the path north became worn with a steady stream of Southern black migrant traffic. World War I (1914-1917) accelerated the exodus. In the eight month period between October 1916 and May 1917, approximately 23,000 blacks left Arkansas in search of a better life in the North.
Find out more about the Great Migration in the MTCC Education Department's Goin North loan box. Contact the Education Department for more information.