Date of Award
History and Philosophy
The Great Migration is the largest self-initiated movement of Black Americans in United States history. By leaving behind the rural areas which were familiar but offered little or no opportunities for advancement out of poverty and journeying to major urban centers, Blacks were able to exercise their individual and collective agency. Many thousands of Black Southerners chose to remain below the Mason-Dixon line: the populations of Atlanta, Houston, and New Orleans swelled during the 1910s and through the 1930s, due largely to an influx of Blacks from other areas of the South. These stories often get lost among the millions of other records about migration to the North. New Orleans offered an enticing compromise between remaining in rural poverty and relocating thousands of miles from home: Black Louisianans could stay relatively close to loved ones while gaining new opportunities for employment and economic stability. Furthermore, the city’s vibrancy and reputation for Black solidarity and community support helped draw those who sought to escape the race-based violence of the Jim Crow countryside. Lastly, New Orleans’ Black neighborhoods had always been and continued to act as hotbeds of cultural evolution, and in areas such as the Tremé and Central City, it was easy to find others who shared similar backgrounds and values. Louisiana’s Great Migration helped stimulate Black culture within New Orleans and across the nation.
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Brown, M. Kay, "The Power of Leaving: Black Agency and the Great Migration in Louisiana, 1890 - 1939" (2018). Senior Honors Theses. 102.