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The Great Migration
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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, General Research and Reference Division

John Taitt, Souvenir of Negro Progress: Chicago, 1779-1925 (Chicago: De Saible Assoc., 1925)

Staff of Liberty Life

The migration greatly expanded the market for African-American business. In Chicago, the most notable breakthrough was in the insurance field. Four insurance companies were founded after the war. The first was Liberty Life. It counted about 3,000 stockholders and seven hundred employees. In New York, black ownership rose from 12 percent in 1915 to 40 percent in 1928. The most successful black businesses were ones in fields where whites would not serve blacks: restaurants, insurance, funeral homes, tailor shops, barbershops, beauty parlors, cabarets, poolrooms, and saloons. Between 1920 and 1930, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, saw a 120 percent increase in the number of African Americans who held professional, business, and clerical jobs.

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