This is the final part of the series I have been running on Jacob Lawrence’s Great Migration paintings. Lawrence was one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century, and the Great Migration, the exodus of six million African Americans from the South to the North that began at the start of the First World War, one of the defining features of American history. I wrote in the first post about the significance both of Lawrence and of the Great Migration, and of the importance of Lawrence’s 60-panel depiction of the event. I have published all the panels, together with their original captions, ten at a time: 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50. And here are the final ten panels, which deal largely with the bitter sweetness of the African American experience of the North.
If you want to see all 60 panels in one place, New York’s Museum of Modern Art is, from 3 April, hosting a special exhibition to mark the centenary of the beginning of the Great Migration in 1915.
In many cities in the North where the Negroes
had been overcrowded in their own living quarters
they attempted to spread out.
This resulted in many of the race riots
and the bombing of Negro homes.
One of the largest race riots occurred in East St. Louis.
The Negroes who had been in the North for some time
met their fellowmen with disgust and aloofness.
One of the main forms of social and recreational
activities in which the migrants indulged
occurred in the church.
The Negro, being suddenly moved out of doors
and cramped into urban life,
contracted a great deal of tuberculosis.
Because of this, the death rate was very high.
One of the last groups to leave the South
was the Negro professional who was forced
to follow his clientele to make a living.
The female worker was also one of the
last groups to leave the South
In the North the Negro had better educational facilities
In the North the Negro had freedom to vote.