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Select a migration to begin learning about The African-American Migration Experience.

The Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Transatlantic Slave Trade
Between the 1500s and the 1860s, at least 12 million Africans were sent to the Americas. About half a million arrived in the United States. This brutal forced migration changed forever the face and character of the modern world.

Runaway Journeys

Runaway Journeys
Tens of thousands of people fled the horrors of slavery every year. Most were captured, but thousands of resourceful runaways succeeded in taking refuge in cities, maroon communities, the North, Canada, and Mexico.

The Domestic Slave Trade

The Domestic Slave Trade
With the expansion of slavery westward, the domestic slave trade that had started in the 1760s continued until the end of the Civil War. At the cost of immense human suffering, it displaced 1.2 million people from the Atlantic states to the Deep South.

Colonization and Emigration

Colonization and Emigration
In the nineteenth century, tens of thousands of African Americans in search of the freedom and opportunities they believed were out of reach in their own country chose to emigrate. They settled in Liberia, Canada, Haiti, Mexico, and Trinidad.

Haitian Immigration : Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Haitian Immigration : Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Following the slave uprising in Saint Domingue and the independence of the island, several thousand enslaved and free people arrived in the United States between 1791 and 1809. Their influence was deeply felt in Louisiana.

The Western Migration

The Western Migration
After Reconstruction, African Americans disillusioned with the Jim Crow South and attracted by land and jobs migrated west to Kansas, Oklahoma, the Great Plains, and California. Many of these pioneers settled on homesteads or in all-black towns.

The Northern Migration

The Northern Migration
In the nineteenth century, most free people left the South and migrated to the northern states in search of a better life. They clustered in small communities in the larger cities and helped establish the foundations of the black urban North.

 The Great Migration

 The Great Migration
Some 1.5 million people moved north between 1916 and 1930 during the Great Migration when the war industry offered industrial jobs to African Americans. Thus began the transformation of the African-American population from a predominantly rural to a predominantly urban people.

The Second Great Migration

The Second Great Migration
The Second Great Migration, between 1940 and 1970, brought 5 million black Southerners North and West. By 1970, 47 percent of the nation's African Americans lived outside the South, and more than 80 percent were urban.

Caribbean Migration

Caribbean Migration
A large number of people from the British West Indies have migrated to the United States since 1900 and the movement is still going on. Today, more than 1.5 million Afro-Caribbeans represent close to 5 percent of the black population.

Return Migration to the South

Return Migration to the South
Since the 1970s, the country has witnessed a reverse migration of African Americans to the desegregated South as prospects for blacks improved in the region. Today twice as many African Americans move back to the South than Southerners migrate north and west.

Haitian Immigration

Haitian Immigration
Haitian immigration entered the American public consciousness as boatloads of people fleeing political persecution and economic disaster landed on Florida's shores. Today, at least 750,000 Haitian immigrants live in the United States, mostly in Florida and New York.

African Immigration

African Immigration
More than half a million people born in sub-Saharan Africa have recently migrated to the United States. Dispersed throughout the country, this highly educated group represents almost 2 percent of the black population.

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