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Migration North to the Promised Land

Betty Lapucia

Contents of Curriculum Unit 78.02.05:

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This curriculum unit investigates the great migration of blacks from the rural South to northern industrial cities. This population movement is important for two reasons: first, it is the largest mass movement in America’s history, and, second, it resulted in a dramatic environmental change for black and white Americans. Included in this study are a consideration of post-Civil War and post-reconstruction conditions in the South, a discussion of the reasons for the migration, a description of the transformation in the life of the migrants when they moved from rural to urban areas, a brief history of the rise of Harlem and an evaluation of the results of the migration. This unit has been developed for seventh grade students. The focal point is geography and subject matter adaptable to a regional study of the United States.

For a short time after the Civil War there was some racial tolerance in the South. W.E.B. DuBois in Black Reconstruction discusses this period. He denies that blacks were simply given their freedom and documented the claim that they earned and deserved liberty because of their own struggles as Union soldiers. It is estimated that 200,000 blacks served in the Union Army. DuBois called reconstruction a high point in American democracy. According to DuBois, carpetbaggers were depicted as peace corps workers; the Ninth Crusade was made up of northern schoolteachers who went South to instruct freedmen on how to exercise the rights of citizenship, as well as to write, read,and figure.

During this time Negroes held elective offices and were quickly learning to govern by governing. DuBois defended the character and ability of these Negro leaders. However, the election of 1876 and the resulting compromise changed this situation. The Compromise of 1877 had its roots in the growth of industrialism in the New South and the domination of politics by industrial rather than agrarian concerns. This compromise demonstrated the unwillingness on the part of the North and the South to enforce reconstruction and brought the death of the ideals and lessons of the Civil War. Southern state legislatures passed laws to disenfranchise Negroes who had been voting in large numbers. In 1896 there were over 130,000 Negro voters in Louisiana but by 1900, barely 5,000. Ordinances such as the Poll Tax, Grandfather, Good Character and Understanding Clauses were instruments employed to halt Negroes from exercising their rights. These laws were rigged to disqualify Negroes who might risk trying to mark a ballot. Also, the Ku Klux Klan was used to terrorize Negroes, and Klansmen murdered and tortured Negroes to prevent them from voting. They justified lynching because they believed that the black race was inherently inferior to the Caucasian race. By 1910 the Negro was effectively disenfranchised in eight southern states. Thus, at the turn of the century, the Negro’s position in the South reached its lowest point since the days of the Black Codes. T. Thomas Fortune, a black intellectual of the time, . . .“Since history showed industrial condition to be regulated directly and indirectly by the political condition of the people, disenfranchisement caused the economic plight of the Negro.” Intolerable racial conditions mounted partly because of the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision of 1896 which legalized rigid segregation.

Negroes became discontented and economic conditions in the South made life more difficult for them. From the 1870’s to the 20th century the South’s economy became unstable. The Depression of 1873 greatly affected the southern farmers. As cotton prices dipped from about 15 cents a pound in the 1870’s to 7 cents a pound in the 80’s, a wave of migration occurred. Some Negroes opted to migrate to Kansas because of railroads, the press, and politicians who had publicized the possibility of instant wealth. This movement became known as the Kansas Exodus. After investigation by a Senate Sub-Committee in 1884, it was concluded that the principal impetus for the migration came from the lower classes and was from one agricultural region to another. Charles S. Johnson concluded in his survey of Negro migration between 1865-1920, “How much is the migration a flight from Persecution”:

Reasons are one thing, motives another...Persecution plays its part—a considerable one. But when the whole of migration is considered, this part seems to be limited. It is indeed more likely that Negroes, like all others with a spark of ambition and self interest, have been deserting soil which cannot yield returns in proportion to their population increase.

1915 was the onset of the great migration of Negroes to Northern cities. At this time the South was suffering from floods and the boll weevil. Both injured the faltering southern economy. Increased mechanization of farms because of the Industrial Revolution displaced many Negroes. The employment picture was bleak because there were no jobs on farms and many unemployed Negroes made their way to cities. Poor whites who had also been displaced from the land got the traditional Negro jobs of elevator operators, busboys, domestics, butlers,and sanitation workers. The South offered little or no economic advancement for Negroes so they sought better conditions elsewhere.

Because of rapid mechanization of factories and the first World War a huge demand for labor developed in northern urban industrial areas. In order to increase factory output to meet orders, northern industrial bosses dispatched labor agents to the South to recruit Negroes. These agents promised Negroes employment and supplied them with free railroad transportation. Despondent blacks seized the opportunity for a new life and began to leave in large numbers. The white ruling class of the South resented this loss of the cheap labor supply. Ordinances were passed to halt the exodus. An example of such a law was the ordinance in Macon, Georgia requiring labor recruiters to pay $25,000 for a license. In December, 1916, one thousand Negroes gathered at the Macon, Georgia, railroad station expecting to leave; instead they were dispersed by the police. Other southern communities stopped trains and prohibited the sale of railroad tickets to blacks; still, large numbers of people fled.

There were two basic flows of people out of the South. One direction was from the Mississippi River to Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Gary, Indiana. These migrants were originally from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The eastern flow moved northward along the Atlantic coast and followed railroad lines. These people settled in cities such as New York and Philadelphia and were predominantly from Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina,and Florida.

The migrants included some preachers and politicians, but the majority were half-educated or illiterate rural residents too restless and proud to live according to the terms set in the South. Emigration from the eleven states of the old Confederacy skyrocketed from 207,000 in 1900-1910 to 478,000 from 1910-1920. Nearly 800,000 left during the ’20’s and almost 400,000 during the Depression of the 1930’s. Once lines of contact were established between families and friends in these northern cities movement became easier.

Most of the Negroes who moved North crowded into the twelve largest cities. Migration to the large city has always been a painful experience, both to the newly arrived as well as to the established city dwellers. Once the Negro became visible in northern cities, Jim Crow laws were passed barring Negroes from restaurants, theaters, hotels,and stores; the Y.M.C.A. erected Negro branches. In Washington, D.C., the resolution to the race problem was to deny its existence.

Migrants soon discovered that their past rural residence had not prepared them for urban life. Unlike the European immigrant, the Negro was handicapped; he or she was colored. W.E.B. DuBois in The Philadelphia Negro, published in 1899, discussed this problem. DuBois observed that an increasing proportion of Negroes were city born and raised but too many occupied the same relative position in society as did their parents and grandparents, because of color prejudice.

Most Negroes found themselves surrounded by prejudice, discrimination and segregation and were forced to reside in the run-down areas of the city. Drake and Cayton in Black Metropolis have described the evolution of the Negro community in Chicago

as a growing population that gradually developed a business and professional class and its own community institutions. In the 1880’s Negroes had ethnic dualism regarding themselves as part of a larger community and maintaining connection with those in power. After 1900 Negroes lost their sense of interrelatedness between black and white Chicago and put an emphasis on self-reliance and development of power within the Negro community.

W.E.B. DuBois in the “Social Evolution of the Black South,” (American Negro Monographs, I (1911)) writes that the city plays a constructive role in race relations, in spite of segregation. He advanced the thesis that, given the American race system, it was in the city that advancement would occur and that it would take place because of collective solidarity. This statement is provocative when applied to Harlem.

Harlem has been the intellectual and cultural center of American Negroes; it has been called a world in itself, a symbol of liberty. The Harlem Renaissance emerged in this area in 1921 with the musical Shuffle Along. At this time blacks became a component in urban living; they held industrial jobs and developed financial resources; some joined the middle class. Because of these reasons race-conscious artists were encouraged to develop works in art, music and literature. The black middle class became interested in aesthetics and promoted and attended Negro productions. These people also created an interest in African motifs and were responsible for the development of interest in black African backgrounds. The Depression erased the advancements made during the renaissance. Historically the renaissance ended with the Harlem Riot of 1935, but the death in literature was announced when Richard Wright published Uncle Tom’s Children in 1938. One critic has said the Harlem riot of 1935 was a symbolic act marking the death of the myth of a gay Harlem. Of course, Negroes would have developed more economically, culturally and politically had there not been an American race system. The achievements made however, were rooted in the value of self-reliance and group solidarity.

Harlem is a section of Manhattan, New York, and is a community within another geographic community. By World War I Harlem had become predominantly Negro. The greatest influx of blacks occurred between 1920-1930. By 1930 there were more Negroes in New York than in Birmingham, Alabama, Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri. The chart below documents the migration to Harlem and refers to the backgrounds of migrants.

Born in

Virginia 44,471New Jersey 5,275Tennessee 1,651
South Carolina 33,765Washington, D.C. 3,358Texas 1,282
North Carolina 26,120Alabama 3,205Kentucky 1,216
Georgia 19,546Massachusetts 2,329Mississippi 969
Florida 8,249Louisiana 2,182Foreign Born 54,754
Maryland 6,656Ohio 1,721
This heterogeneous Negro population resulted in a community with a diversification of ideas, values, and beliefs. Migration into Harlem by Negroes coincided with the movement of whites to New York’s other boroughs. Between 1920Ð1930, 118,792 whites left Harlem and 87,417 Negroes entered. By 1930 72% of Manhattan’s Negro population resided in Harlem.

Harlem also became a haven for immigrants from twelve Caribbean islands. Immigration from the Caribbean was easy because no quota system was applied by the Bureau of Immigration. By 1930, 25% of Harlem’s population consisted of Caribbean immigrants. The islanders also resented America’s race system but their presence resulted frequently in intraracial antagonism. Caribbean immigrants unified into groups whose aim was to alleviate racial tensions. Three of the groups were The West Indian Reform Association, The West Indian Committee on America and the Foreign Born Citizen’s Alliance. The aim of these groups was never fully realized because intraracial antagonism was never overcome.

The Harlem area deteriorated during the Depression, which, as we have seen caused the demise of the renaissance. At this time average earnings for Negroes in Harlem were lower than for whites in New York; inferior wages resulted in an inability to adequately supply life’s necessities. An Urban League survey conducted at the onset of the Depression showed that realty values in Harlem were appreciating while depreciating elsewhere. This resulted in Harlem residents’ paying more for rent than did residents in other Manhattan boroughs. 33% of a Harlemite’s paid earnings was used for rent while elsewhere whites paid 20%.

Housing in Harlem had been erected for people with different cultures and family structures; 75% of the dwellings were built pre-1900. The average apartment had five to seven rooms and was intended for large families. Black migrants were younger and in need of smaller residences. In order to survive, during the 30’s, one in four blacks commercialized the large apartments. Many times rooms were sublet to strangers who were immoral and undesirable. Sometimes rent parties were held so that occupants of these large dwellings might not be evicted.

Life in Harlem was difficult. Because of segregation some Negroes formed their own businesses to serve black patrons. These businesses emphasized racial solidarity to solve black problems and encouraged a society in which Negroes could live untouched by discrimination, thereby undertaking an elevation process without white assistance or interference. These businesses had a difficult time surviving because of the social and economic conditions in Harlem which occurred during the Depression. Harlem never again recovered the glory of the renaissance and emerged as and remained a slum. A slum is defined as a poor, densely populated area of a city. Yet, even in decadence, the Negro urban resident had become resourceful and proud, had made cultural and political achievements, and had denounced American racism. The following quotation by a nineteen-year-old male Harlem resident summarized the purpose of this unit.

I would like to see the day when my people have dignity and pride in themselves as black people. And when this comes about, when they realize that we are capable of all things and can do anything under the sun that a man can do, then all these things will come about—equality, great people, presidents—everything.

Migrants demanded their rights, became aware of their ancestry and identified with Africa; at the same time they regarded blacks as a part of America. Today, 97% of the blacks in America reside in urban areas. However, a new trend has developed in some northern cities; some blacks are returning to the South. Although this is not true of all northeastern states, in Connecticut blacks are moving out faster than they are entering. A total of 10,300 more blacks moved out of Connecticut than into the state between the 1970 census and mid-1975, according to new figures on the racial composition of the population recently released by the Census Bureau. Connecticut’s net out-migration—5.7% of the state’s total black population—was the highest proportion of blacks moving out of any of the fifty states. Connecticut did not have a total loss of black population in 1970-75, however, because there were 17,000 more births than deaths among black residents who remained. The black population of Connecticut grew by 6,700—the difference between 17,000 excess births over deaths and the net outward migration figure of 10,300. In Connecticut’s case, blacks left because of the high cost of living and unemployment. Also, some Connecticut industries have relocated in southern areas. One example is the Seam Co., originally a New Haven factory, which moved to Atlanta, Georgia, because of lower production costs in the South.

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Sequence of Lessons

This unit is intended for seventh grade Social Studies students. The reading level ranges from third to seventh grade and can last from four to six weeks. Included are human and urban geography as well as history, political science, and economics.

Week I—Geographic locations

Using atlases and maps, students should learn and be able to identify the migration routes: 1) Mississippi River and 2) railroads on the Atlantic Coast. Students will also become proficient in citing states and Caribbean islands involved in migration. With only physical, resource, and climate maps of the United States, students will study locations of Chicago, Illinois, and New York, and discuss why people would select these areas to settle.

Week II—Social conditions of the South

Students will learn and develop an understanding of social conditions in the South after the Civil War. Topics to be discussed include disenfranchisement, Ku Klux Klan, Plessy v. Ferguson, Jim Crow laws, discrimination, segregation and disillusionment.

Week III—Economic conditions

Students will develop an awareness of the reasons why economic conditions caused a full-scale migration. The migrations of 1873, 1880’s, and 1890’s and finally, the great migration are the migrations that will be studied. Emphasis should be placed on national conditions as they affected the South, the faltering agricultural economy, and lack of employment for blacks in southern cities.

Week IV—Life in the South

Students will write a paper about living condition in the South. They will participate as characters and discuss their dissatisfaction with the lack of work, discrimination, low wages, and will discuss why the North has started to look like a promised land.

Week V—Migration, two studies and Harlem

Students will realize that job agents promised blacks jobs but not housing. They will become aware of difficulties besetting migrants. DuBois’ Philadelphia Negro and Drake and Cayton’s Black Metropolis will be discussed. Harlem is to be studied, especially the development of a slum that becomes particularly ugly during the years of the Great Depression as well as the emergence of a middle-class culture that could sustain a renaissance.

Week VI—Current trends in Connecticut

An analysis of recent statistics from the Census Bureau will culminate the unit. Current trends in Connecticut illustrate a dramatic turning point in the migration of blacks.

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Sample Lessons

Lesson I—Geographic locations

Material needed: 1) current atlases or maps of the United States and North America, preferably one per student. 2) Chalk board to write the spelling of each place to be identified 3) drawing paper and writing paper 4) crayons or colored pencils.

Performance objectives:

1. At the end of this lesson students will be able to identify and spell correctly the places involved in migration.
2. Students will be able to illustrate the two routes followed by migrants.
3. Students will draw and color the two migration routes. They will include states and cities involved in the migration.
4. Using maps and atlases students will study the physical location of New York and Chicago. They will use physical, climate, and resource maps and decide why people would select these areas to settle.


Motivation (said by teacher) “It is a most difficult decision for anyone to move far away from family, friends, and other ties. Over the next several weeks we will discover why many blacks decided to leave the South. In order to begin, each of you will look at the map of the United States on your desks.”


Ask students to find the Atlantic Ocean on the map. Then instruct them to write the names of states that touch the ocean. Once this is completed, have them locate the Mississippi River. Have them write the states the Mississippi River touches. After this is accomplished, ask students to use a map of North America and find the twelve Caribbean Islands that participated in migration. Let students also write these islands down. Allow time for the students to identify these places. Call a few to a pull-down map and have them point out various places. Once students can readily identify these places, introduce the two migration routes, Mississippi River and Atlantic coastal railroad lines. Be certain each student is able to identify the routes and states that the routes passed through. Students must also understand that geographic location aided migrants in the selection of a route. Once students are proficient in this task of route identification, pass out drawing paper and colored pencils. Have students draw, not trace, the two routes. Included are the states of origination as well as termination. After this has been completed ask students to use physical, climate, and resource maps of the United States to study the desirability of New York and Chicago. Students are to write down landforms, proximity to water, climate and resource power, and from this data decide why these cities were settled by migrants. Using the same criteria compare New York and Chicago to Sante Fe, New Mexico.

Summary and Evaluation

As homework have students develop an essay comparing Sante Fe and New York. They are to include landforms, rivers, resources, climates, power, and population densities. From this data students are to hypothesize reasons for settlement. All of the information can be found in any current atlas.

Lesson II Economic Conditions caused migration

Materials needed: 1) chalk board 2) ditto sheet summary of economic conditions in the South 3) ditto sheet summary of national economic conditions.

Performance objectives:

1. At the conclusion of this lesson students will be able to define the following terms: economics, demand, supply, depression, migration, Depression of 1873, Kansas Exodus, Industrial Revolution, mechanization, traditional Negro jobs, labor agent and Great Depression.
2. Students will fully be aware of the part national conditions played in affecting the South’s economy.
3. Because of the bleak economic picture in the South students will realize that blacks began to look elsewhere to live.
4. Students will list reasons people would leave the South.


Motivation: (teacher states) “Can we imagine what it would be like to have no job, no money, no home, no food and no hope? Blacks in the South, because of economic and social conditions, were faced with these conditions. What would you do?” (Allow time for discussion). “Well let’s find out what southern blacks did.”


The following terms should be defined either on a chalk board or ditto sheet.

1. economics—deals with money, how we make a living; demand and supply.
2. demand—need or want of a particular item; the more we want, the higher the price, and the less we demand, the lower the price.
3. supply—how much of an item is grown or produced; if there is more than is wanted, price goes down or, if there is less than is needed, price goes up.
4. depression—a time when the economy fails, money becomes worthless, banks close, businesses close and there is high unemployment.
5. migration—the movement of people from one place to another within a country.
6. Depression of 1873—also called Panic of 1873; it began on September 8, 1873, when New York Warehouse and Securities Company went into bankruptcy. Ten days later Jay Cooke and Company, a famous banking house, failed. On September 20 the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading for ten days. Railroads halted construction and defaulted on bonds. Mills closed down and threw half the factory population out of work. By 1876 and 1877, 18,000 businesses had failed. In the South farm prices declined. The typical southern farm was small and unmechanized, devoted to producing a cash staple of cotton or tobacco and nothing else. The exceptions were rice plantations on the coast of Louisiana, and Texas, sugar plantations in Louisiana, and truck farms of the southern coastal plain. Cotton prices sunk to new lows.
7. Kansas Exodus—the movement of blacks from one rural area to another caused by railroads, politicians, the press and dreams of becoming rich; it involved mostly lower-class people.
8. Industrial Revolution—the use of machines instead of hand labor for production; machines were able to produce things quicker, cheaper, and in greater amounts. Mechanization required some skilled laborers and also displaced farm hands.
9. mechanization—the use of machinery.
10. traditional Negro jobs—these included busboys, elevator operators, domestic workers, porters, butlers, waiters (to name a few).
11. labor agent—a person dispatched to recruit workers.
12. Great Depression—this occurred in 1929 and extended into the 1930’s; at this time banks closed, businesses failed, unemployment rose, money became worthless.
After a thorough discussion of these terms, distribute a ditto sheet summary of economic conditions in the South. Include references to the Depression of 1873, the decrease in prices for cotton from 15¢ per pound in the 1870’s to 7¢ per pound in the 1890’s; wheat from 95¢ per bushel in 1880 to 83¢ in 1890 and 50¢ in 1895. Between 1870-1895 corn prices declined fifty percent and tobacco, hogs, sheep, butter, and cheese were all in the same downward spiral. Also include the quotation of T. Thomas Fortune (it is found in this unit). Discuss the Kansas Exodus and movement from one agricultural region to another. Be certain students understand that until 1915 migration was from one rural area to another. Conditions in 1915 should also be explored. Include consideration of the floods, boll weevil, and mechanization of farms. Cite the bleak economic picture on southern farms and in cities. Instruct students to read the ditto sheet and demonstrate comprehension by listing reasons people might consider leaving the South. Once there is an awareness of reasons, distribute a ditto sheet which summarizes national conditions in 1915. Include mention of the rapid mechanization of factories and World War I. Discuss the need for labor and the use of agents to recruit southern blacks. It is important to include methods employed by white southerners to halt the exodus. Stress that no method employed was able to stop the wave of migration.

Summary and Evaluation

Once students have read the ditto sheets ask them to imagine that they are black residents of Macon, Georgia in 1916. There is no work for them on the farm and a labor agent has just promised them a job in New York and a free railroad ticket. Conditions in Macon are hostile: they are hungry, trains are halted, there is violence. As an essay assignment students are to express what they would do. Would they remain in Macon hoping things would get better or would they leave for New York and seek a better life in an unknown place? After correcting the drafts students should submit a final paper which they will read aloud to their classmates.

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Lesson III—A discussion of The Philadelphia Negro by W.E.B. DuBois, the rise of the Harlem Renaissance and the development of a slum.

Materials Needed: 1) A minimum of 5 copies of W.E.B. DuBois’ The Philadelphia Negro (this may be difficult for low-level students.) 2) Ditto of excerpts from The Philadelphia Negro 3) library for research.

Performance objectives:

1. Students will develop an awareness of the handicap suffered by black migrants—color prejudice—through a thorough investigation of The Philadelphia Negro, especially an excerpt from “The Contact of the Races”.
2. Through library research, students will assess W.E.B. DuBois.
3. Students will learn about Harlem, its Renaissance and its decline into a slum in the 1930’s.


Motivation: teacher reads aloud “Credo” by W.E.B. DuBois.

I believe in the Prince of Peace. I believe that war is murder. I believe that armies and navies are at bottom the tinsel and braggadocio of oppression and wrong, and I believe that the wicked conquest of weaker and darker nations by nations whiter and stronger but foreshadows the death of that strength.

I believe in liberty for all men: the space to stretch their arms and their souls, the right to breathe ... the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine, and ride on the railroads, uncursed by color: thinking, dreaming, working as they will in a kingdom of beauty and love....Finally, I believe in Patience—patience with the weakness of the weak and the strength of the strong, the prejudice of the Ignorant and the ignorance of the Blind; patience with the tardy triumph of Joy and the mad chastening of Sorrow—patience with God!

Ask the students what they think of this. Get several comments and then lead into a discussion of W.E.B. DuBois.


Background on DuBois—William Edward Burghardt DuBois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 1868 and was educated in its public schools. He entered Fisk University in 1885 and was graduated in 1888. He entered Harvard from which he was graduated, cum laude, in 1890. Five years later he received a Ph.D. from Harvard. His career may be divided into 5 periods:

1. Researcher and university instructor 1895Ð1910
2. Editor of the NAACP’s The Crisis, 1910Ð1934
3. Second period as university instructor, 1934Ð1944
4. Second period with the NAACP, 1944Ð1948
5. International years, 1948Ð1963.
DuBois wrote 19 books and hundreds of editorials, articles, and pamphlets. His published writings spanned some 60 years, and nearly all deal with the racial problem. W.E.B. DuBois died in Accra, Ghana,on August 27, 1963, at age 95. For further information consult reference books or DuBois’ writings cited in the bibliography.

A ditto should be made of the following excerpt from The Philadelphia Negro. The work is entitled “The Contact of the Races.”

COLOR PREJUDICE—Incidentally throughout this study the prejudice against the Negro has been again and again mentioned. It is time now to reduce this somewhat indefinite term to something tangible. Everybody speaks of the matter, everybody knows that it exists, but in just what form it shows itself or how influential it is few agree. In the Negro’s mind, color prejudice in Philadelphia is that widespread feeling of dislike for his blood, which keeps him and his children out of decent employment, from certain public conveniences and amusements, from hiring houses in many sections, and in general, from being recognized as a man. Negroes regard this prejudice as the chief cause of their present unfortunate condition. On the other hand most white people are quite unconscious of any such powerful and vindictive feeling; they regard color prejudice as the easily explicable feeling that intimate social intercourse with a lower race is not only undesirable but impracticable if our present standards of culture are to be maintained; and although they are aware that some people feel the aversion more intensely than others, they cannot see how such a feeling has much influence on the real situation or alters the social condition of the mass of Negroes.

As a matter of fact, color prejudice in this city is something between these two extreme views: it is not to-day responsible for all, or perhaps the greater part of the Negro problems, or of the disabilities under which the race labors; on the other hand it is a far more powerful social force than most Philadelphians realize. The practical results of the attitude of most of the inhabitants of Philadelphia toward persons of Negro decent are as follows:

1. As to getting work:

No matter how well trained a Negro may be, or how fitted for work of any kind, he cannot in the ordinary course of competition hope to be much more than a menial servant.

He cannot get clerical or supervisory work to do save in exceptional cases.

He cannot teach save in a few of the remaining Negro schools.

He cannot become a mechanic except for small transient jobs, and cannot join a trades union.

A Negro woman has but three careers open to her in this city: domestic service, sewing, or married life.

2. As to keeping work:

The Negro suffers in competition more severely than white men.

Change in fashion is causing him to be replaced by whites in the better paid positions of domestic service.

Whim and accident will cause him to lose a hard-earned place more quickly than the same things would affect a white man.

Being few in number compared with the whites the crime or carelessness of a few of his race is easily imputed to all, and the reputations of the good, industrious and reliable suffer thereby.

Because Negro workmen may not often work side by side with white workmen, the individual black workman is rated not by his own efficiency, but by the efficiency of a whole group of black fellow workmen which may often be low.

Because of these difficulties which virtually increase competition in his case, he is forced to take lower wages for the same work than white workmen.

3. As to entering new lines of work:

Men are used to seeing Negroes in inferior positions; when, therefore, by any change a Negro gets in a better position, most men immediately conclude that he is not fitted for it, even before he has a chance to show his fitness.

If, therefore, he set up a store, men will not patronize him;

If he is put into public position men will complain.

If he gain a position in the commercial world, men will quietly secure his dismissal or see that a white man succeeds him.

4. As to his expenditure:

The comparative smallness of the patronage of the Negro, and the dislike of other customers makes it usual to increase the charges or difficulties in certain directions in which a Negro must spend money.

He must pay more house-rent for worse houses than most white people pay.

He is sometimes liable to insult or reluctant service in some restaurants, hotels and stores, at public resorts, theaters and places of recreation; and at nearly all barber shops.

5. As to his children:

The Negro finds it extremely difficult to rear children in such an atmosphere and not have them either cringing or impudent: if he impresses upon them patience with their lot, they may grow up satisfied with their condition; if he inspires them with ambition to rise, they may grow to despise their own people, hate the whites and become embittered with the world.

His children are discriminated against, often in public schools.

They are advised when seeking employment to become waiters and maids.

They are liable to species of insult and temptation peculiarly trying to children.

6. As to social intercourse:

In all walks of life the Negro is liable to meet some objection to his presence or some discourteous treatment; and the ties of friendship or memory seldom are strong enough to hold across the color line.

If an invitation is issued to the public for any occasion, the Negro can never know whether he would be welcomed or not; if he goes he is liable to have his feelings hurt and get into unpleasant altercation; if he stays away, he is blamed for indifference.

If he meet a lifelong white friend on the street, he is in a dilemma; if he does not greet the friend he is put down as boorish and impolite; if he does greet the friend he is liable to be flatly snubbed.

If by chance he is introduced to a white woman or man, he expects to be ignored on the next meeting, and usually is.

White friends may call on him, but he is scarcely expected to call on them, save for strictly business matters.

If he gain the affections of a white woman and marry her he may invariably expect that slurs will be thrown on her reputation and on his, and that both his and her race will shun their company.

When he dies he cannot be buried beside white corpses.

7. The result:

Any one of these things happening now and then would not be remarkable or call for especial comment; but when one group of people suffer all these little differences of treatment and discriminations and insults continually, the result is either discouragement, or bitterness, or over sensitiveness, or recklessness. And a people feeling thus cannot do their best.

Presumably the first impulse of the average Philadelphian would be emphatically to deny any such marked and blighting discrimination as the above against a group of citizens in this metropolis. Every one knows that in the past color prejudice in the city was deep and passionate; living men can remember when a Negro could not sit in a street car or walk many streets in peace. These times have passed, however, and may imagine that active discrimination against the Negro has passed with them. Careful inquiry will convince any such one of his error. To be sure a colored man to-day can walk the street of Philadelphia without personal insult; he can go to theaters, parks and some places of amusement without meeting more than stares and discourtesy; he can be accommodated at most hotels and restaurants, although his treatment in some would not be pleasant. All this is a vast advance and augurs much for the future. An yet all that has been said of the remaining discrimination is but too true....

Once this has been distributed and read, discuss what is brought out in the excerpt. Have students list different examples of prejudice and have students write out DuBois’ definition of color prejudice. Ask them if this definition is applicable today. Once students thoroughly understand this study, ask them if they agree with the proposition laid down by DuBois in 1899? Is this proposition applicable today?

After this has been completed, a discussion of Harlem should take place. Include DuBois’ statements, found in the text, from “Social Evolution of the Black South.” A ditto should be made and should include the following facts about Harlem as the intellectual and cultural center of American Negroes: the emergence of the renaissance because of the development of a Negro middle class, the decline of the renaissance because of the Depression, and finally the emergence of Harlem as a slum. Explain the influx of blacks into Harlem and the complications that arose with the arrival of black Caribbean immigrants. Discuss inferior wages, high rents, inappropriate housing, and difficult living conditions. Ask the students to define a slum. Once comments from students have been discussed, discuss the fact that amid the dirt and decadence emerged a new Negro.

Summary and Evaluation

Students will do library research on DuBois. Assign students to study his life and some of his works. A good approach is to divide the class into groups and give each group a task. Once the research is completed a forum should be formed. The forum, it is hoped will bring out the following points:

1. The Philadelphia Negro is still a model of racial and urban studies.
2. DuBois conducted most of the research, including interviewing 5,000 people.
3. The Philadelphia Negro reported that the Negro problem was one involving the poor and dispossessed and had nothing to do with inherent inferiority.
4. DuBois’ writings constitute the most important body of work in the history of the Black movement.
5. The applicability of DuBois to current conditions.

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Bibliography for Teachers


Callow, Alexander, ed. American Urban History: an Interpretative Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.
Cousins, Albert N., and Hans Nagpul, ed. Urban Man and Society. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970.
Davis, Bertha, Dorothy Arnof, and Charlotte Davis. Background For Tomorrow and American History. New York: Macmillan Co., 1970.
Eldredge, Wentworth H., ed. Taming Megalopolis: What is and What Could Be How to Manage in an Urbanized World. New York: Doubleday: Anchor Books, 1967.
Locke, Alain, ed. The New Negro, New York, 1925.
Pleski, Harry A.; Kaiser, Ernest, ed. The Negro Almanac. New York: Bel Whether Co., 1971.
Toomer, Jean. Cane. New York: Harper & Row, 1969.
Wright, Richard. Black Boy. New York: Harper & Row, 1945.
Wright, Richard. Native Son. New York: Harper & Row, 1940.



Murphy, Raymond E. The American City: An Urban Geography. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw Hill Book Co., 1974.
Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Rights. “The Migration of Negroes From the South.” pp. 239Ð247.


Clark, Kenneth, B. Dark Ghettos. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.
Drake and Cayton. Black Metropolis.
DuBois, William Edward Burghardt. The Philadelphia Negro. New York: Signet Classics, 1967.
DuBois, W.E.B. “The Crisis.” “The Lynching Industry,” “The Shubuta Lynchings,” “Lynching,” “Logic,” “Jim Crow,” “Migration a Crime in Georgia,” “Migration of Negroes,” “Brothers Come North.” New York: Signet Books, 1970.
DuBois, W.E.B. Souls of Black Folk. New York: Mentor Books, 1967.
DuBois, W.E.B. Black Reconstruction. New York: The New American Library, 1970.
DuBois, W.E.B. “Social Evolution of the Black South.” American Negro Monographs No. 4 (1911).
Glazer, Nathan, and Daniel Moynihan. Beyond the Melting Pot. Massachusetts, M.I.T. Press, 1963.
Greer, Scott. Governing the Metropolis. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1962.
Johnson, Charles S. “How Much is Migration a Flight from Persecution.” Opportunity, I (Sept., 1923), pp. 272Ð74.
Meier, August. From Plantation to Ghetto. New York: Hill and Wang, 1970.
Silbermann, Charles. Crisis in Black and White. New York: Random House, 1964.


Billingsley, Andrew. Black Families in White America. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1968.
Duncan, Otis Dudley. “Methodological Issues in the Analysis of Social Mobility.” Ed. Smelser, Neil J., Seymour Lipset. In Social Structure and Mobility in Economic Development. Chicago: Aldine Co., 1966.
Goode, William. “Family Mobility.” Ed. Reinhard, Bendix, and Seymour Lipset. In Social Mobility in Industrial Societies. New York: The Free Press, 1966.
Logen, Rayford. The Betrayal of the Negro. New York: Signet, 1970.
Osofsky, Gilbert. Harlem: The Making of A Ghetto. New York: Harper & Row, 1968.
Rose, Harold M. “Social Processes in the City, Race and Urban Residential Choice.” Resource Paper No. 6. Committee on College Geography, Association of American Geographers. Washington, D.C.: 1969.
Scanzoni John A. The Black Family in Modern Society. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1971.
Taueber Karl. Taueber Alma. Negroes in Cities. Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co., 1965.


Burks, Edward C. “Letter From Washington.” “Census Finds Blacks Leaving State.” Connecticut Weekly: New York Times: Sunday 16 April, 1978, pg. 4.

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Reading List for Students


Davis, Bertha; Dorothy Arnot, and Charlotte Davis. Background for Tomorrow and American History. New York: Macmillan Co., 1970.
Ploski, Harry A., Ernest Kaiser, ed. The Negro Almanac. New York: Bell Whether Co., 1971.


DuBois, William Edward Burghardt. The Philadelphia Negro. New York: Signet Classics, 1967.
DuBois, W.E.B. Writings For Children. New York: Signet Classics, 1967.
Franklin, John Hope. An Illustrated History of Black Americans. New York: Time-Life, 1973.


Chambers, Bradford. Chronicles of Negro Protest—A Background Book. New York: Parents Magazine Press, 1968.

Text Books

1. Kolevzon, Edward R. and John A. Heine. Our World and Its Peoples. Boston: Allyn and Bacon Inc., 1977.
2. Schwartz and O’Connor. Exploring The Western World. Boston: A Globe Book, 1973.
3. Schrier, Philip. United States Understanding Through Inquiry. New York: American Book Co., 1971.

Materials for Classroom Use

Audio Visual materials (City of New Haven) l6mm movies.
Frederick Douglass illustrates racial conditions in North.
Prudence Crandall illustrates race prejudice.

Reference Books

Wilson, Walter, ed. The Selected Writings of W.E.B. DuBois. New York: Mentor Book, 1970.

Background Books

Locke, Alain, ed. The New Negro. New York, 1925.
Meier, August. Negro Thought in America 1880Ð1915. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor Paperbacks, 1966.


Goude’s World Atlas
Rand McNally Classroom Atlas


ditto masters
colored pencils
drawing paper
writing paper

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