Warning: Because of the context of the era, you will read outdated terms no longer used to describe Black or African American people, including “colored” and “negro.” R.R. Wright, Jr. was a sociologist, social worker, and a minister. He became the first African American to earn a doctorate in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1911.
The South has suffered economically from the migration of negroes, for this is the time when laborers are needed, and especially on the farm. There was afforded last winter a striking example of the effect of migration on the South by the fact that the State of Virginia made a special bid for workers from abroad. The State is in sore need of laborers; negroes form a large part of the laborers. They are leaving by the thousands, while “thousands of acres of agricultural land is now going to weeds.”
…The North has taught the negroes the value of money; of economy; it has taught more sustained effort in work, punctuality and regularity; it has taught negroes even a greater race respect and race loyalty. And though the negroes, with the weight of the inheritance of slavery (for perhaps 95 percent of the Northern negroes are descendants of slaves), and with the weight of ignorance and poverty, together with the great inconvenience they suffer because of their color, from the American point of view, are only beginning to be real Americans; and though they are greatly handicapped in the struggle in the North, I think I can safely say that the North is indeed the great and hard school for them, where they are learning their best and often their first lessons in American thrift and industry, and the true dignity of American citizenship.
Citation: Excerpt from Wright, Jr., R.R., “The Migration of Negroes to the North” in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 27, The Improvement of Labor Conditions in the United States (May 1906), pp. 97-116. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1010513. Accessed 23 September 2023.
- According to the first chart, which state did most African Americans from North Carolina go to? Which state received the least number of African Americans from North Carolina?
- Look at the second chart. What are the top two reasons both African American men and women left the South? What does this tell you about what was happening to African Americans living in the South after Reconstruction?
- Read the note following the last chart and compare it to Source 1, “The Negro Question” editorial. How does Wright’s research on the effects of the Great Migration on the Southern economy compare to the predictions Governor Fowle made when encouraging African Americans to leave North Carolina?
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