Lecture 7. Migration and Urbanization

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American History: From Emancipation to the Present (AFAM 162)

In this lecture, Professor Holloway documents the “Great Migration,” beginning in the first decade of the twentieth century and continuing with increasing pace until the mid-1920s. During this time, black Americans relocated from the rural South to the urban North. This general shift in the population marked a moment of self-determination for African Americans, demonstrating that they were prepared to leave behind the lives they had made in the South for better opportunities elsewhere. It is important to see these migrations as a form of social protest against the limited political and economic opportunity in the South, racial violence, and the KKK, which was reborn and flourished in the early 1920s. As Professor Holloway reveals, urban life in the North was frequently cruel and often difficult, but it was also a life forged of free will and absent a regional and cultural history of forced bondage. The remainder of the lecture focuses on how whites’ racial anxieties were manifested in the cultural realm, using D.W. Griffith’s popular film Birth of a Nation.

Warning: This lecture contains graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.

00:00 – Chapter 1. Sterling Brown Poem: “Old Lem”
04:39 – Chapter 2. Organizations that Focused on the Quality of Black Life
07:22 – Chapter 3. The Great Migration
26:10 – Chapter 4. D.W. Griffith Film: “The Birth of a Nation”

Complete course materials are available at the Yale Online website: online.yale.edu

This course was recorded in Spring 2010.