Make a way somehow: African-American life in a northern community, 1790-1965

Front Cover
Syracuse University Press, 1994 - History - 321 pages
In a groundbreaking book, Kathryn Grover reconstructs from their own writings the lives of African Americans in Geneva, New York, virtually from its beginning in the 1790s, to the time of the community's first civil rights march in 1965. She weaves together demographic evidence and narratives by black Americans to recount their lives within a white-controlled society. Make a Way Somehow, which reflects the tenor of the gospel song whence it came, is a complete and meaningful history of black Genevans, with a moving focus on the individual experience. The author traces five principal migrations of African Americans to northern cities: the forced migration of slaves from the East and South before 1820; the antebellum fugitive slave farm-to-town movement; the postwar migration of emancipated people; the so-called Great Migration between the two World Wars; and the last movement that began around 1938 and ended in 1960, which was precipitated by the need for workers in large-scale, commercial agriculture and the war-mobilization effort. Grover pieces together the lives of generations of African Americans in Geneva and delineates the local system of race relations from the city's social and economic standpoint. Black Genevans were kept at the fringes of society and worked in jobs that were temporary and scarce. While antislavery and suffrage work was common, it represented but a small portion of reform in towns whose broader sentiments opposed racial equality. In a work that spans more than a hundred years, the author establishes a context for understanding both the persistence of a small group of blacks and the transience of a great many others.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

Make a way somehow: African-American life in a northern community, 1790-1965

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Grover, an independent scholar in American history, has written a meticulously researched and fascinating examination of almost 200 years of African American life in Geneva, New York, a small Northern ... Read full review


The west branch district school on High Street about 1870
Burtons Hotel Exchange Street about 18881894

48 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information