The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and how it Changed America

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Vintage Books, 1991 - History - 408 pages
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Between the early 1940s and the late 1960s, more than five million African Americans left the fields and farms of the Deep South and headed for the big cities, where they hoped to find the economic comfort and legal rights denied them under Jim Crow. This great migration changed the United States from a country where race was a regional issue and black culture existed mainly in rural isolation into one where race relations affect the texture of life in nearly every city and suburb; it altered politics and popular culture at every level. Nicholas Lemann's narrative concerns the people and lives that were transformed by this migration. First, he tells the stories of several families who left the cotton plantations and small towns, heading north. He then examines the political figures, mostly white, who formulated the official response to this huge demographic shift. The migration was so gradual that it was barely noticed by the establishment until it was nearly over; suddenly politicians realized there was a crisis in the ghettos that they had to try to solve, even though they didn't understand it.--From publisher description.

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User Review  - ccjolliffe - LibraryThing

Little lives rock big boats in Lemann's twofold drama of Pres. Johnson's Great Society venture. Act 1 introduces us to black victims of white progress in the sharecropper South, as they cast their ... Read full review

The promised land: the great Black migration and how it changed America

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Focusing on the larger post-1940 complement of the black South-to-North movement--the "Great Black Migration''--that created New York's Harlem and similar black quarters in every major northern city ... Read full review

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About the author (1991)

Nicholas Lemann was born and raised in New Orleans and has been a magazine writer since he was a teenager. He has worked at the Washington Monthly, Texas Monthly, and the Washington Post, and has been a national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly. He was the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University until 2013.

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