The Great Migration

Migration Series. Jacob Lawrence, 1941

Migration Series. Jacob Lawrence, 1941

After World War I and into the early 1970s, more than six million African Americans migrated by rail and roadway from the American South to the cities of the North and the West.  Called the Great Migration, this search by black migrants for improved opportunities and relief from the living conditions faced in the American South represents one of the largest demographic events of the twentieth century.  The circumstances of this event were chronicled, in midstream as it were, in a series of panels painted in 1941 by the artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000).  Ownership of the series, entitled The Migration of the Negro, was split between the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, but it is currently on display in its entirety at MOMA.  This document of a historically significant use of American transportation can also be seen online at MOMA’s website.

~Thanks to David Ballard for this post

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