The African-American Migration Experience
March 15, 2009 8:44 AM   Subscribe

In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience is organized around thirteen defining migrations that have formed and transformed African America and the nation. From The New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture [prev], more than 16,500 pages of text, 8,300 illustrations, and 60+ maps.

Until recently, people of African descent have not been counted as part of America's migratory tradition. The transatlantic slave trade has created an enduring image of black men and women as transported commodities, and is usually considered the most defining element in the construction of the African Diaspora, but it is centuries of additional movements that have given shape to the nation we know today. This is the story that has not been told.
posted by netbros (3 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
That entire section on Caribbean immigration doesn't even mention a word about Canada, a country that is far more important (per capita) as a destination for post-1960 BWI emigrants. Until increased immigration from Africa watered down this statistic a bit, fully 95% of black Torontonians could trace their (recent) history to the West Indies. The article mentions the UK's decision to choke off Caribbean immigration in 1962 but makes it sound as if ALL BWI migrants then decided to head to NYC. This is not remotely the case. I've read that a quarter of all Jamaicans will live in Toronto at some point of their lives, and per capita, Toronto is absolutely the BWI capital of North America. Not New York.

As an aside and to make this point completely off topic, a lot- a huge number- of BWI emigrants were INDO-Caribbeans from Guyana and Trinidad, my partner among them.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:55 AM on March 15, 2009

Here you go ethnomethodologist. Canadians of African descent (as described by Multicultural Canada) include people brought to Canada as slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, former American slaves who arrived there between the American Revolution and the Civil War, free American migrants, Caribbean Peoples, and those who have come directly from Africa. This resource describes the origins and migration routes and methods, as well as settlements. Economics, community and cultural life for African Canadians is described in detail.

"Until the 1950s the United States was the immediate origin of most black people in Canada. In the 1960s this changed under the impact of Caribbean migration, initially by British West Indians and later by Haitians. Then in the 1980s, for the first time, Canada began to receive large numbers of immigrants directly from Africa. The Commonwealth West African nations of Ghana and Nigeria, which had been sending students to Canada for several decades and which shared many historic ties with Canada, were among the first to send permanent migrants; subsequently, the largest numbers were from Ethiopia and Somalia and included many refugees driven from their homeland by famine and civil war."
posted by netbros at 10:51 AM on March 15, 2009

This past holiday season, my grandmother and I were in Atlanta. She was hoping to go to Augusta to look up some family records. She told me, for the first time, of the sort of migration that happened where a lot of folks she knew headed north to NYC (including her, where she's lived for the rest of her life). I guess she would fall somewhere between the first and second great migration.

She also told me that Augusta was one of the most desegregated (or instead of the double negative, maybe I should say "integrated") towns in the country back in those days. White folks and black folks lived next door to each other like it weren't no thang (and it weren't) and white folks she knew actually recoiled in horror at stories of segregation in nearby places. That's probably more than most northern towns and cities could say back in the 30s.
posted by Eideteker at 6:10 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

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