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The 'Great Migration' Was About Racial Terror, Not Jobs

“The North and the Congress basically gave up on equality for African Americans, and that set us on a course that we have not yet recovered from.”
The Redneck Shop in Laurens, South Carolina.
The Redneck Shop in Laurens, South Carolina.REUTERS/Chris Keane

The story of the “Great Migration” of African Americans throughout the 20th century is often framed as one of blacks heading North from the South seeking jobs and better wages. In Michael Goldfield’s book 1997 The Color of Politics: Race and the Mainsprings of American Politics, he writes:

For Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the legal nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, based in Montgomery, Alabama, there is no dispute. As he told told The Marshall Project Wednesday, African-American migration was and is premised more accurately on racial terror: