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The African American Great Migration: Pursuing the American Dream

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Monday, July 12, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0612
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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A Black family arrives in Chicago from the South, ca. 1919 (

The Great Migration was the mass movement of mostly rural Black Southerners to urban cores across the country between 1916 and 1970. It was one of the most important moments in American history and reconfigured the nation’s politics, arts, and culture.  

As millions of people confronted the challenges of a new labor market, housing segregation, and Northern racism, African American communities redefined themselves as representative of Southern sensibilities and Northern realities.

Marcia Chatelain, professor of history and African American studies at Georgetown University, examines how the enormous social upheaval changed families, especially as they understood generational differences, gendered expectations, and the possibilities of realizing a better life in cities. She also explores the reasons why some left, some stayed, and how our lives today continue to be changed by the Great Migration.

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