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Causes of African American Immigration

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Great Migration

Slavery, captives these are the terms which are not separable from the history of the United States since the 15th century until today. Mallaika Adero, in a piece called, Up South Stories, studies and letters of African American Migrations mainly focus on the immigration of African Americans to north of the America. Adero was the former member of the class of the Howard university and she focused here studies on social sciences and perused her career as a senior editor. This article highlights the main reasons for immigration of blacks to the north such as better job opportunities, undesirable effects of natural disasters in south, and higher respect for women and children. Moreover, the article explains the political and cultural consequences of the great migration.

The first and foremost important reason that clearly explains the blacks' immigration is the job opportunities and higher wages that were offered up in the North. According to the author, up until 20th century, years after the slavery trade was ended, the vast majority of the black people still lived in the south and were considered to be the essential part of the agriculture economy. This trend seemed to continue until the first African American generation who were born free. Amiri Baraka stated that "a psychological shift … made blacks go north" (Baraka). Therefore, the new black generation on their path seeking for more freedom, higher wages, and in general better lifestyle began their way to the north. Besides the black people's motivation to move to other parts of the nation, the north region merchants were interested in absorbing the black laborer due to preventing European immigration to the states during the world war I. This situation eventually led the demand for black workers to boost dramatically in the north. According to Adero, Negroes were allowed to work in factories that they were prohibited before. For instance, the industry of railroads, mechanics, and other manufacturing businesses were in need of black laborers.

In addition to the better job opportunities, the second most important reason that was pushing the African Americans to the north was the natural disasters that were happening frequently in the south. The destructive floods and boll weevil insects were the two most important threats to the south businesses. "The damage has been to the extent of a loss of 50 percent of the crop, estimated at 400,000 bales of cotton annually, about 4,500,000 bales since the invasion or $250,000,000 worth of cotton." (Adero 3). Based on the stated statistics, the industry of the south was negatively influenced by the insects attacking the cotton plants which consequently prevented the suppliers from improve their business. This situation lead more black citizens to lose their jobs and to distribute to the other regions.

As the north areas were becoming a better place to live for the African American people, the black population was gradually decreasing in the south. In early 19th century, the black population in the north reached the limit that could enable them to strengthen their political and economic status by electing a leader from their race who could contributor to the congress. This could potentially be considered as one of the solutions to improve the black people's power nationwide. However, the author describes this decision as an unwise move. She correlates the consequents of such a decision to the black people during reconstruction days. On the other hand, the author believes the black people should take an alternative path to the liberty when she says "The Negroes should support representative men of any color or party, if they stand for a square deal and equal rights for all" (Adero 9). The blacks' community was developing as their men were getting more involved in the industry. Nearly, ninety percent of the jobs that required skilled labors were occupied by the black workers. This situation led the black community in the north to become more powerful and eventually establish themselves in the congress.

One of the factors that played an essential role during the huge migration was the relation between minority and majority groups and how these two could become a complementary of each other. Alain Locke, American writer and philosopher, explains despite the definition of this two status, it has been proven through the history that there is a very narrow difference between them. Therefore, depending on the time and the situation, one could be considered the minority or the dominant majority. The author uses these attitudes to describe the environment existed in the north nations during the great migration.  According to the author, the great migration significantly affected the blacks' community to lose their tradition and culture. However, the study of the history demonstrates that they were able to overcome all the cultural disorganization while gradually following the majority group in the society.

Generally speaking, These two articles describe the black people's immigration to the north after the civil war. The author attempts to clearly describe the main problems that African American were confronting through their immigration. Also, the effect of the migration on the black people's culture and family life were studied by introducing the close relation between minority and majority groups in different societies.

Works Cited

  1. Malaika Adero, Ed. Up South: Stories, Studies, and Letters of this Century's African-American Migrations (New York: The New Press, 1993), pp. xvii-32.
  1. Alain Locke,  "The New Negro" (1925), pp. 442-451.

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