The Great Migration


U.S. History Roaring Twenties The Great Migration
Students learn why African Americans migrated from the rural South to the urban areas of the Northeast and Midwest beginning in 1910 in what was called The Great Migration. Students examine the “push and pull” reasons for the migration. They also explore the positive and negative outcomes on migrants’ lives and the impact on the population that already existed. Students then learn about the effect of population growth on the physical environment of cities.

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Overview

In this experience, students learn why African Americans migrated from the rural South to the urban areas of the Northeast and Midwest beginning in 1910 in what was called The Great Migration. Students examine the “push and pull” reasons for the migration. They also explore the positive and negative outcomes on migrants’ lives and the impact on the population that already existed. Students then learn about the effect of population growth on the physical environment of cities.

Objectives

  • Analyze the causes and effects of changing demographic patterns resulting from the Great Migration.
  • Identify the effects of urbanization on the physical environment as a result of the Great Migration.


The first Great Migration was the movement of African Americans out of the rural South to cities in the Northeast and Midwest. It began in the years leading up to World War I and continued until the start of the Great Depression. At the start of the twentieth century the great majority of African American lived in southern states, but by 1930 over a million had migrated to cities north of the Mason-Dixon line. They were seeking a better life with higher paying jobs and an escape from the segregation and racism of the South. In this experience you will learn about the Great Migration and how it affected the urban areas of the United States and the physical environment.

Objectives

  • Analyze the causes and effects of changing demographic patterns resulting from the Great Migration.
  • Identify the effects of urbanization on the physical environment as a result of the Great Migration.




African American Family that Migrated from the Rural South to Chicago


Imagine you were faced with the decision to leave your home and all that was familiar to you for the promise of a better life. What questions would you consider and want answered before you made the journey?


Record one question you might have.



Student answers will vary but could include:

  • How will I (we) get there?
  • Who will go and who will stay behind?
  • Where will we live?
  • How much will the journey cost?
  • Will I be able to find a job?
  • How much money will I make?

Discuss some of the suggested questions with the class and encourage students to understand the difficult challenges that faced African Americans in the South at the time. Ask students to consider why they think people are driven to leave their homes.

If there are students in your class who have migrated from another region, ask them to speak about their personal experiences.


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