The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) has declared Black Migrations as the Black History theme for 2019. This theme evokes the Great Migration of the twentieth century, the largest voluntary domestic movement of black people in history, in which approximately 6 million African Americans migrated from the rural South to urban cities in the Northeast, Midwest, and West to pursue better social realities and economic opportunities.1 In the first Great Migration (1916–1940), 1.6 million American blacks left southern farms, severe segregation, and dangers of lynching for northern industrial cities.2 In the Second Great Migration (1940–1970), following the Great Depression, upwards of 5 million over migrated to the north and west.3
The theme Black Migrations also recognizes the movement of blacks outside of the Great Migration.
Beginning in the early decades of the twentieth century, African American migration patterns included relocation from southern farms to southern cities; from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West; from the Caribbean to US cities as well as to migrant labor farms; and the emigration of noted African Americans to Africa and to European cities, such as Paris and London, after the end of World War I and World War II.
For more information on this year's theme, visit the ASALH's Black Migrations page.
Pitt's Library will be hosting several events to celebrate Black History Month 2019 at Hillman Library and the Community Engagement Center in Homewood. For a detailed listing of the events, check out the Events page here.
The Library holds several resources related to the Black Migrations theme. To find some library materials about the Great Migration in the U.S. and in Pittsburgh and Black History in Pittsburgh, check out the Resources page here!
1 Editors, History.com. “Great Migration.” HISTORY. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/great-migration.
2 “The Great Migration.” Digital Public Library of America. https://dp.la/primary-source-sets/the-great-migration.
3 “Great Migration (African American).” American History USA. https://www.americanhistoryusa.com/topic/great-migration-african-american.
The Black History Month 2019: Black Migrations @ Pitt banner features "During World War I there was a great migration north by southern Negroes" by Jacob Lawrence, 1917-2000. n.d. National Archives at College Park. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:During_World_War_I_there_was_a_great_migration_north_by_southern_Negroes_-_NARA_-_559091.jpg.