START OF WORLD WAR I AND THE GREAT MIGRATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS
The start of World War I was 100 years ago today when Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo.
The Great War reduced the flow of European immigrants – then a principal source for cheap labor in large American cities outside of the South – to a slow drip, which subsequently created new employment opportunities for African Americans, who wanted to escape the South’s Jim Crow laws and lynching.
The movement of about 6 million African Americans from the South to the Northeast, Midwest and Western industrial cities in pursuit of these opportunities is called the Great Migration.
Harlem, a predominantly white New York City neighborhood located at the northern end of Manhattan, saw a tremendous influx of African Americans during the Great Migration.
One could argue that Archduke Ferdinand’s death helped to spark the Harlem Renaissance…
(Mother and child image in Chicago’s Union Station shot by Esther Bubley.)