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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Fred White to Bethlehem Baptist Association, Chicago, Illinois, March 26, 1917. Carter G. Woodson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (083.00.00)

The Great Migration

Even before the outbreak of World War I, African Americans had begun to migrate from rural areas to urban centers. The war accelerated this process. Many took advantage of train lines running north to escape the segregation of the Jim Crow South and to find new opportunities in bustling cities like Chicago. However, new forms of discrimination and segregation greeted them upon arrival. Known as the "Great Migration," this exodus continued through the following decades, helping to spawn industrial growth and cultural movements in the 1920s such as the Harlem Renaissance, while also reshaping urban politics in northern cities.