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Old 12-25-2012, 10:01 PM
 
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It's interesting to me that there are plenty of minorities that live out West, but there really aren't that many black people out West. The most black state seems to only be 8% black, with California being less than 7% Black. How come that is? Why didn't the great migration affect the West as much as it did the Northeast and Midwest?
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:15 PM
 
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First off, there are substantial Black populations in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland and Sacramento, 10% or more of the population of each city. In Los Angeles, Mayor Tom Bradley, whose core support came from a Black-Jewish coalition, was mayor for 20 years. Blacks dominated Oakland politics for a similar period.

I should probably read The Great Migration, but my understanding is that when Black people moved out of the South they moved to closer northern cities. The story is that they also followed the railroad lines that led north from their area. So people from the Tidewater went up to the Northeast, folks from Mississippi went to Chicago, etc. The West was far. It didn't have the free communities of color that had been established in the Northeast during slavery days. Also, the West had a Latino labor force and had less need to recruit Blacks than Northeastern companies.

During World War 2 things shifted. The aircraft and shipbuilding industries needed a lot of workers, and they started recruiting among Blacks in Texas and Louisiana--the westernmost parts of the South. Thousands of people came out to LA and Oakland and Richmond and worked in the airplane plants and shipyards--generally in lower level positions until Black trade unionists protested. There were Black people here before that--W.E.B. DuBois called early 20th Century Los Angeles a paradise for Black people, noting its high homeownership rate. But for the most part, the Black communities of the West Coast were really established during World War 2, and evolved afterward.
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:18 PM
 
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Just spitballing here, but it seems logical the reasons would be slavery related. Since most blacks were brought against their will, and taken to the southeastern US, then in the days of the underground railroad, they fled to Philadelphia, New York and Boston. At the time of the Gold Rush, which established the west coast, many blacks in the northeast and especially in the southeast, likely wouldn't have had the means to afford cross country travel in the days before automobiles, cheap trains and airplanes.
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:20 PM
 
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slavery is the obvious, overarching reason.

But if you were a black person in the south, a train ticket north was cheaper than one going west. Also, even before the great migration, many northern cities has established free slave or black populations, so black people in the south likely had connections to family and friends up there as opposed to western cities which few to no African Americans. Also, many of the western cities had rough and tumble reputations. Black people wanted to escape Jim Crow, but they weren't willing to move to the other side of the country to cities that weren't established.
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Old 12-26-2012, 07:18 AM
 
Location: Savannah, Georgia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodjobgoodeffort View Post
It's interesting to me that there are plenty of minorities that live out West, but there really aren't that many black people out West. The most black state seems to only be 8% black, with California being less than 7% Black. How come that is? Why didn't the great migration affect the West as much as it did the Northeast and Midwest?
If they didn't have the money they stayed put. Read or watch Roots.
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Old 12-26-2012, 08:07 AM
 
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The majority of the West wasn't developed yet. Therefore, African Americans had no intentions of moving to that part of the country. During the Great Migration the majority of the West was still uninhibited and the cities weren't nearly as established as cities to the north of the southern states such as Chicago, Cleveland, St Louis, etc. Besides LA and other CA cities, western cities really didn't start to grow and establish themselves until post WWII(i.e. Phoenix) and many blacks started moving to those cities around that time. I live in Phoenix which is 6.5% black and although Africans Americans are definitely a small minority here compared to other minority groups(i.e. Hispanics/Latinos) their presence is still very visible and you do see black people every time you go to the mall, grocery, etc. And even Phoenix has always had a nice established black community that dates back to WWII.
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Old 12-26-2012, 09:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by workaholics View Post
slavery is the obvious, overarching reason.

But if you were a black person in the south, a train ticket north was cheaper than one going west. Also, even before the great migration, many northern cities has established free slave or black populations, so black people in the south likely had connections to family and friends up there as opposed to western cities which few to no African Americans.
After the civil war,
South : 36% black
Northeast: 1.5% black
Midwest: 2.1% black
West : 0.6% black

The three main regions were between 12 and 13 million people, but the West was less than a million people.

I suspect that such sparsely populated land had less opportunities for labor. Most people worked in furs, mining, prospecting, ranching or agriculture.

By 1930
South : 25% black
Northeast: 3.3% black
Midwest: 3.3% black
West : 1.0% black

So technically both the West and the Midwest increased by 1.57 their percentage of the population from civil war to 1930. The Northeast by 2.27. They are not that radically different.

But while the natural growth rate of the black population is higher than the growth rate of the white (non-hispanic) population, the slight difference is overwhelmed by the last 46 years of immigration since the laws were changed. The majority of that immigration from Latin America and Asia went to the West. Basically the immigrant population has made the percentage of black population proportionately much lower in the west.
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Old 12-26-2012, 10:20 AM
 
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There wasn't really a high number of blacks outside the South until the Great Migration started around 1910--which really was at its peak during the World War II period. The cities up the Mississippi River and into the Midwest as well as the cities in the Mid-Atlantic just up from the coastal South were the easiest destinations to reach in the early part of this period and had strong industrial sectors during this period so in part that's why these cities had growing black populations in this period.

The West on the other hand had small black populations in urban areas--many worked for the railroads or in the hotel industry that didn't really grow very much until World War II when there was a need for workers in the shipyards along the West Coast--and actually a lot of Southern white people migrated to the West Coast during this period as well.

I think people often forget about how recent a lot of large African-American populations in cities outside the South really are in some ways. In 1940, the percentage of the total population of New York(6.1%) and Chicago(8.2%) that was made up by blacks was about the same as Portland and Seattle today. Even Detroit was only about 9 percent black in 1940. After the immigration restrictions of the 1920s which effectively shut off a lot of the European immigrants that industrial cities had relied on for labor for over 70 years and with assimilated children of immigrants moving into middle-class suburbs, the US relied on internal black migrants from the South to fill much of this labor pool until immigration reform in the 1960s started the increase in Asian and Hispanic immigrants we see today. The South also had less need for agricultural workers with the mechanization of much farm-work--the mechanical cotton-picker was invented in 1944. In part the whole cultural explosion of music in the post-war period like electric blues, rock 'n roll, R&B, soul music, and so on was a result of this urban shift of the population.

The Western US saw some of this migration, but in part it was just further away and boomed later in the 20th Century in many places. The working class fields that blacks traditionally worked in were more likely to be filled by Mexican immigrants in the Western US more recently as well. But until the interstate highway system and car ownership became the norm--except for people making dramatic journeys to look for labor(railroad workers, gold mining booms, and so on), people would more often emigrate to what was convenient either via sea or river travel or later the railroads.
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:12 PM
 
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It may have already been answered, but basically, there were two great migrations. The first from about 1910s-1930s, then again from after WWII (1945) through the 1960s.

The west coast cities didn't REALLY start to get BIG until after WWII. So, while LA, Oakland, etc. definitely attracted the second great migration, now that highway systems were more extensive air travel, cold war defense spending, aircraft/port activity kind of jobs, before WWII, California was just a bit too much of a frontier compared to the midwest and northeast (too far/remote). By a later time, population was already established, and starting in the 1970s, the South started to change, with Houston, Dallas, Atlanta growing up and economically expanding post civil rights and there started to be a reverse migration somewhat, as well as migration simply from the backward rural areas of Georgia, Texas, etc. to the shiny new cities in those states.

So, in essence there really never was a really a long period of time, where the west coast really was the best option for African Americans to move to, with the exception of post war California.
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Tex?Il? View Post
It may have already been answered, but basically, there were two great migrations. The first from about 1910s-1930s, then again from after WWII (1945) through the 1960s.
After the civil war,
South : 36% black
Northeast: 1.5% black
Midwest: 2.1% black
West : 0.6% black

By 1930
South : 25% black
Northeast: 3.3% black
Midwest: 3.3% black
West : 1.0% black

Northeast had more cities and well established labor markets.

By 1970
South : 20.6% black
Northeast: 8.9% black
Midwest: 8.1% black
West : 4.9% black

Actually from 1930-1970 black immigration picked up to the West relative to the rest of the country. After 1970 the big waves of Latino and Asian immigration began moving to the west.

By 2010
South : 20.2% black
Northeast: 13.0% black
Midwest: 11.3% black
West : 5.7% black

Last edited by PacoMartin; 12-26-2012 at 12:57 PM..
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