African-American Migration from the South, 1940-1970

In 1940, 70% of blacks lived in the South. The geography of the country’s bus and railroad lines enabled expansion of African American communities of the North, Midwest and West.

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From 1930 to 1970 the demographics of the black population of Norwalk and Connecticut changed greatly. In 1970 Norwalk reported the highest percentage of nonwhite persons (8.4 %), followed by Hartford (8.1%) and Bridgeport (8%).

The continued reliance on and exploitation of the southern black workforce in cotton harvesting and tenant farming motivated many to migrate north in the early 1940s.

My mother wanted us to have opportunities that they didn’t have. My mother wanted to be a nurse, but a young black girl in Virginia didn’t have that chance.

Richard Fuller, The Hour

Young Boys at Gees Bend, Alabama (1937) | Arthur Rothstein | Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington DC