The Great Migration of the black people in the United States from the South cities to the North cities took place in two parts; the first and the second migration. The first Great Migration of Africa American people started from 1914 to 1929. Before the Great Migration took place nearly 90% population of the black population lived in the rural southern region of the United States. The major factors that impelled the black people to move northwards were cruel segregationist laws and inadequate economic opportunities in the rural south.
The restoration of segregationist policies also referred as Jim Crow was the major factor that contributed to the Great Migration of African Americans. The segregationist policies were restored in 1876 immediately after post-Civil war Reconstruction era concluded. The segregationist policy became law in the south and it facilitated white supremacy at the expense of black people (Hahn 2010). This policy forced black people in the South to work in the white Americans plantation in order to limit their economic opportunity.
In the quest of dominating the black people, the white Americans introduced the sharecropping policy which forced black people to work on white plantation and share the product with their masters. The sharecropping policy main objective was to prevent the black people from attaining economic prosperity. In 1898, the occurrence of the boll weevil plague in plantations damaged crops which were the only source of income for black people thus affecting their lives massively.
The other factor that facilitated the exodus of black people from the rural south to the urban north was the continuous existence of the Klux Klan. Even though Klux Klan was officially disbanded in 1869 it was still practiced secretive in the South. Klux Klan had many negative implications to the black people since it promoted lynching, violence and intimidation of black people.
Majority of the black population migrated to the northern cities such as New York and Chicago immediately after the start of the First World War. The broke out of the First World War in Europe created labor shortage in West, Midwest and North urban areas of the United States, as it put to an end the steady immigration of European people to the United States (Grossman 2001). African Americans took advantage of the job opportunities in the industrial sector that arose. Owners of industries in the urban north also enticed the black people to take the available jobs to prevent decline of industrial production.
The Great Migration of black people from rural south to the urban north is considered as the turning point (watershed) of Africa American people because it granted them the opportunity to improve their lives. After migrating to the urban North, Africa Americans attained employment opportunities in the industrial sector and they also obtained the privilege of developing their own places. The urban life had a massive impact on black people as it helped them to grow economically, socially and politically (Wilkerson 2010).
The exodus of black people northwards enabled them to regroup which led to the creation of the Black urban society whose main objective was to fight for the rights of black people. The Black urban society empowered the black people as it fought for education right of a black child. Education of the people child is the key component that deliberated the black people from widespread prejudice and racism as the white people started to see blacks as equal and not inferior as they used to believe. Thus the Great Migration exerted a massive influence to the lives of black people in the United States.
Hahn, Steven, (September 13, 2010), Great Migration: The African-American Exodus North, Bedford: St. Martin's Press
Grossman, James R. (2001). Land of Hope: Chicago, Black Southerners, and the Great Migration. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Wilkerson, Isabel (2010). The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. Random House