African Americans made substantial gains in industrial employment, particularly in the steel, automobile, shipbuilding, and meatpacking industries. Between and , the number of blacks employed in industry nearly doubled from , to , The unions ended the segregation of many jobs, and African Americans began to advance into more skilled jobs and supervisory positions previously informally reserved for whites. Between and , the number of blacks in managerial and administrative occupations doubled, along with the number of blacks in white-collar occupations, while the number of black agricultural workers in fell to one-fourth of what it was in Census from to Populations increased so rapidly among both African-American migrants and new European immigrants that there were housing shortages in most major cities.
With fewer resources, the newer groups were forced to compete for the oldest, most run-down housing. Ethnic groups created territories which they defended against change. Discrimination often restricted African Americans to crowded neighborhoods. The more established populations of cities tended to move to newer housing as it was developing in the outskirts. Mortgage discrimination and redlining in inner city areas limited the newer African-American migrants' ability to determine their own housing, or obtain a fair price.
In the long term, the National Housing Act of contributed to limiting the availability of loans to urban areas, particularly those areas inhabited by African Americans. As they lived and worked more closely with European Americans, the divide became increasingly indefinite. This period marked the transition for many African Americans from lifestyles as rural farmers to urban industrial workers.
This migration gave birth to a cultural boom in cities such as Chicago and New York. In Chicago for instance, the neighborhood of Bronzeville became known as the "Black Metropolis". From to , the "Black Metropolis" was at the peak of its golden years. Many of the community's entrepreneurs were black during this period.
For urbanized people, eating proper foods in a sanitary, civilized setting such as the home or a restaurant was a social ritual that indicated one's level of respectability. The people native to Chicago had pride in the high level of integration in Chicago restaurants, which they attributed to their unassailable manners and refined tastes. Migrants often encountered residential discrimination, in which white home owners and realtors prevented migrants from purchasing homes or renting apartments in white neighborhoods.
In addition, when numerous blacks moved into white neighborhoods, whites would quickly relocate out of fear of a potential rise in property crime, rape, drugs, and violence that was attributed to neighborhoods with large black populations. These tendencies contributed to maintaining the "racial divide" in the North, perhaps accentuating it. By the late s and s, African Americans were hyper-urban, more densely concentrated in inner cities than other groups. Since African-American migrants retained many Southern cultural and linguistic traits, such cultural differences created a sense of "otherness" in terms of their reception by others who were already living in the cities.
The Great Depression of the s resulted in reduced migration because of decreased opportunities. With the defense buildup for World War II and with the post-war economic prosperity, migration was revived, with larger numbers of blacks leaving the South through the s. After the political and civil gains of the Civil Rights Movement , in the s migration began to increase again. It moved in a different direction, as blacks traveled to new regions of the South for economic opportunity. The beginning of the Great Migration exposed a paradox in race relations in the American South at that time.
Although blacks were treated with extreme hostility and subjected to legal discrimination, the southern economy was deeply dependent on them as an abundant supply of cheap labor, and black workers were seen as the most critical factor in the economic development of the South. One South Carolina politician summed up the dilemma: "Politically speaking, there are far too many negroes, but from an industrial standpoint there is room for many more. When the Great Migration started in the s, white southern elites seemed to be unconcerned, and industrialists and cotton planters saw it as a positive, as it was siphoning off surplus industrial and agricultural labor.
As the migration picked up, however, southern elites began to panic, fearing that a prolonged black exodus would bankrupt the South, and newspaper editorials warned of the danger. White employers eventually took notice and began expressing their fears. White southerners soon began trying to stem the flow in order to prevent the hemorrhaging of their labor supply, and some began attempting to address the poor living standards and racial oppression experienced by Southern blacks in order to induce them to stay.
As a result, southern employers increased their wages to match those on offer in the North, and some individual employers opposed the worst excesses of Jim Crow laws. When the measures failed to stem the tide, white southerners, in concert with federal officials who feared the rise of black nationalism , co-operated in attempting to coerce blacks to stay in the South.
The Southern Metal Trades Association urged decisive action to stop black migration, and some employers undertook serious efforts against it. The largest southern steel manufacturer refused to cash checks sent to finance black migration, efforts were made to restrict bus and train access for blacks, agents were stationed in northern cities to report on wage levels, unionization, and the rise of black nationalism, and newspapers were pressured to divert more coverage to negative aspects of black life in the North.
A series of local and federal directives were put into place with the goal of restricting black mobility, including local vagrancy ordinances, "work or fight" laws demanding all males either be employed or serve in the army, and conscription orders. Intimidation and beatings were also used to terrorize blacks into staying. Wilson as interfering with "the natural right of workers to move from place to place at their own discretion". During the wave of migration that took place in the s, white southerners were less concerned, as mechanization of agriculture in the late s had resulted in another labor surplus so southern planters put up less resistance.
A map of the black percentage of the U. A map showing the change in the total Black population in percent between and by U.
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Chicago: U of Chicago P, Archived from the original on June 29, Retrieved July 26, Statistics provided by the Archives at Tuskegee Institute. African Americans: A Concise History 4th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
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Street challenges dominant neoconservative explanations of the black urban crisis that emphasize personal irresponsibility and cultural failure. Looking to the other side of the ideological isle, he criticizes liberal and social democratic approaches that elevate class over race and challenges many observers' sharp distinction between present and so-called past racism. In questioning the supposedly inevitable reign of urban-neoliberaism, Street also investigates the real, racial politics of the United States and finds that parties and ideologies matter little on matters of race.
This innovative work in urban history and cultural criticism will inform contemporary social science and policy debates for years to come. The First and Only True Ghetto. The Second Golden Age Ghetto. Metropolitan Apartheid.