Oct 6/10 - Pt 3: America's Great Migration

The story of The Great Migration and how the ambition of six million African-Americans changed the United States forever.


America's Great Migration - Isabel Wilkerson

We started this segment with a clip from Robert Johnson singing more than 70 years ago. At the time, Chicago beckoned sweetly to hundreds of thousands of African-Americans living in the south. And it wasn't the only northern city calling.

Between 1915 and 1970, about six million African-Americans left the south for New York City, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Chicago along with west-coast cities such as Los Angeles and Oakland. It's known as The Great Migration. When it began, 90 per cent of black Americans lived in the south and mainly in rural areas. By the time it was over, nearly half lived in the North and mostly in big cities.

It was a movement that re-made American society and one that Isabel Wilkerson calls "the biggest under-reported story of the 20th century." In her book The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. In it, she tells the stories of three African-Americans who were part of that migration. Isabel Wilkerson joined us from Atlanta, Georgia this morning as part of our project, Shift.

Last Word - Citizens of Nowhere

We ended the program today with something The Current's Kristin Nelson is working on. She gets the last word this morning.

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