Destination Norwalk:


Migration from the South,


Curator: Kathleen Motes Bennewitz

From 1910 to 1930 America witnessed “The Great Migration” of 1.2 million black Americans from southern states to northern cities. Spurred on by civil, economic and educational injustices that made up everyday life in the South, they fled in search of jobs and social equality.

Those who migrated laid the foundation of an even larger movement — “The Second Great Migration” from 1940 to 1970 — which propelled over 5 million southern blacks to relocate to urban industrial centers of the North, Midwest and West.

This mass exodus directly impacted Norwalk along with other cities in Fairfield County and the state. With Norwalk’s steady growth, the city’s black population increased between 1940 and 1970 from 2.4% (871 pop.) to 8.4% (6,660 pop.).

As the racial composition of Norwalk changed, the city’s political priorities, labor relations, community and cultural expression evolved in these decades of watershed Civil Rights reforms.


“The solidly built up business blocks can be seen on either side of Washington Street.”
Airplane Appraisal of the City, Urban Redevelopment Program, Norwalk. Part 1 (1954).
Local History Room, Norwalk Public Library