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18. Opportunity in the South

[Female voice] Is it possible in terms of the list of pulls and pushes that southern cities don't, are not particularly vital, or vibrant right. I mean that there are fewer of them, that is as people moving from them, finding that you know agriculture is failing, boll weevils are destroying crops, so that they moved to the urban center in the South; I mean, could those cities absorb a new labor force? You know, offer them _____.

To some extent, especially women. There are still opportunities for women in southern cities and the black populations in southern cities grow considerably during this period. But one of the things that helps us to understand motivation for migration north is knowing that many rural, black southerners moved to nearby cities. So if you think about it; you have to ask why did black southerns think it was time to move to northern cities? I don't know how many of you have moved, but moving a long distance is a big deal. Even now, when you have telephones and are hooked up to the Internet and all these things, it's still a big deal to move a long way. So try to imagine, it's 1916, your family doesn't have a car, they don't have a telephone, you probably don't have a radio and you're moving from Mississippi to Chicago; that's a big deal. So, if you have this alternative of moving to a southern city what it tells you is that there must have been some very compelling reasons to make this longer move, especially since there were jobs available in southern cities.

What this is saying is, even though we know that the availability of jobs in northern cities made the Great Migration possible, when people of few means are actually making the decision, I'm going to go there instead of there, to some extent they're making that decision based upon racial issues, race relations, better education, thinking of things like that.

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