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We believe the migration to embody two major factors. A push out of one environment and a pool into another environment. The question might be asked Why does the negro migrate. The question IPX Why does the Negro not migrate. Well this should be of course in the context of what makes most people move and people move either because their present situation is an unhappy one or because the prospect of a new situation is a rosy one for both of. These words by one of our guests of the diary serve to introduce the topic of today's discussion. Migration and urbanization of the negro in the United States. As we continue with the problems of the last citizen. The Last of Us and the Negro in America a series of programs devoted to the extension of our knowledge of the largest minority group in the United States its problems and the problems it poses to all Americans. The last edition is produced by Radio Station WBA a
Purdue University on drug grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. The discussions are the producer of the series E-W Richter and Dr. Louis Schneider a professor of sociology at Purdue University. Today's program migration and urbanization. Here now is Mr. Rector the negro and the city are discussions of the past few weeks have centered around problems that are national and their scope problems that are not limited to any given area. For the next few weeks we will be dealing with problems connected with the negro in a specific area of population concentration in the city. We'll be talking about such things as the negro and the labor market the negro and the housing market the negro and crime and so forth. Today we deal with him as the last migrant. Our discussion will have to do with the reasons for his migration to the cities and to a certain
extent with his situation once he reaches the city. And other words will be dealing with a composite problem of migration and urbanization for a general background of the matter of migration Let's turn to Lou Schneider. We're all well aware of that migration has been of tremendous consequence in the history of the United States. Prior to 1890 we had what historians and sociologists sometimes call the old migration migration from the northern and western parts of Europe. Migration represented by German Scandinavians Englishman and so on. This kind of migration represented an inflow into the United States of people of cultural backgrounds not very different from those of Americans. Differences there were yes. But at the same time the cultures of Scandinavia England Germany were appreciably close to the culture of the United States after about 1890 as is well known the current of migration not a source of migrants began to shift
migrants began to come from the southern and eastern parts of Europe. People of Italian origin Greek origin Slavic origin compose this new all migration cultural differences between these people and Americans were greater than they had been between representatives of the older migration and the Americans. In the 1920s we revised our immigration laws to meet what we thought of as a distinctively new situation. In any case our laws became restrictive. They were designed to favor the old type of migrants over the new. Also our quota system restricted sharply the numbers of immigrants we would allow into entrance annually hereafter if we needed really large supplies of labor we could no longer draw so heavily on old Europe and indeed beginning only a few years before our restrictive immigration legislation important movements of Negro workers toward the north got on the way. Around the time of World War One was a demand for skilled and unskilled labor coming from northern
industries negroes started to move up to cities like New York Philadelphia Detroit and Chicago in considerable numbers. Well let me interrupt here for a moment Lou to make the point that when industry begins to call up negroes from the south to the northern Sutter's the process becomes one that is called internal migration. Yes the negro migration to be sure is internal migration migration within the country itself some internal migration any country is likely to have and especially in a country that's highly industrialized and urbanized you have a good deal of it. There are parts of the world still in which there is a certain likelihood that a man will pass all his life within 20 miles or so or so of the spot where he was born. But this is getting rarer and rarer and perhaps soon will be just about nonexistent in a country like ours. There's bound to be a great deal of internal movement. It's fascinating to turn back now to the history of various modern countries for example Germany and note how in a lot of decades of the nineteenth century after
Germany had begun its big industrial kick from about 1870 on the currents of internal migration became extremely powerful through the United States has consistently been a country of high internal mobility. But as of today our high mobility is undoubtedly sustained by the industrial and urban character of our civilization and the Negro people are certainly important very important in our internal migration. It's fairly accurate to say that our cities were hit successively by people like Germans and Scandinavians by people like Italians and Poles finally by people like Negroes and Puerto Ricans. In view of the lateness of the negro migration and the numerical importance of the negro group one might fairly call the negro the last night when the last minute in and by no means the least important one. If you like the last citizen and here we are squarely on our topic and the case of this program we've seen rather we've been even more embarrassed by riches
than we have ordinarily been. The amount of material available to us is overwhelming and casting about in that material we have decided that it would be helpful to listen for some few minutes to Dr. Robert Johnson director of research of the National Council of Christians and Jews whose following statement has the virtue of travelling between generalized and personalized comments both of which are useful to bear in mind. We believe the migration embodied two major factors. A push out of one environment I pull into another environment. The question may be asked Why does the negro migrate. The question might be asked Why does the Negro not migrate. Well this should be of course in the context of what makes most people move and people move either because their present situation is an unhappy one or because the prospective new situation is a rosy one. Or both. The European immigrant expects to find gold in the streets presumably when he came to this town in this country. The American Negro in the South
does not make much money in the area of the depression I think a domestic used to make three dollars a week in the rural areas maybe 60 hours a week in the urban areas. The sharecropper situation is quite bad and here again as he said if you get in debt and the manager of the plantation uses what they call the crooked pencil that is he alters the figures and you can never prove whether he has put down the right figures for what you all are not. Then you are always in debt you can never get ahead and your life will just be fighting from sun to sun to maintain yourself and keep alive. Then you hear from the U.S. as these people move in and a community sort of way. A few venturesome souls go forth. Some of them make good. They never move pick up and move all in once which they almost never do they go up north and look around. And see the situation come back home report about it. Or maybe they go up north and get a job and write back and send back for the family. And word goes from cousin to cousin
brother brother that the industrial opportunity is good in a certain area and then whole families begin to pick up and move toward the north. It has often been pointed out that the Negro may be worse off in the north than the south because he never knows where he stands where he will be accepted or rejected in public accommodations jobs informal groups. This may be true but the fact of not having laws to promote segregation is a comforting one. And the fact that you may have about 17 states in the north that have laws against discrimination is likewise comforting. The fact that you that if a person discriminates against you he's usually acting against the law. I will help you the freedom that you can feel in the north is something that can almost it's almost indescribable. The scene many people in the way they side just in the business of crossing the Ohio River. It signifies they are no longer in the south. Migration has many causes but you'll usually find that it is a word of mouth thing from brother to brother cousin the cousin the pastor of the church sometimes would go up
north take a look at situations find out where the welfare facilities are and where people can obtain housing and then sometimes he sends his whole congregation and most of them of course would stay then certain cities could become traditionalists. Good question why the good negro people go to some cities and not others. Like in the case of the Puerto Rican with an industrial opportunities much better in Chicago Milwaukee than it is in New York. And yet there are only 25000 Puerto Ricans and Chicago and there are five or six hundred thousand New York part of this is just the pattern. A few people did and did it successfully so someone else does it. You have to have a tradition of success in every group in order to find the pattern for the rest of your group. And the guy goes to Chicago and makes good then why shouldn't he and others in many small towns it would never occur to people to migrate even though the industrial opportunity is great and I know for a negro in Nashville Chicago and Detroit and Cleveland are Mecca because you are free there. There are jobs for you there unions that might protect your job security. There is housing that is bad but it at least is
better than what you had. And keep in mind it's always a matter of relative deprivation. A person I say to myself Well this may not be so happy relative to what I had down south this looks very good. Dr. Johnson speaks of the push and pull of migration. However the particular factors involved in migration of the negro have worked out. There's no doubt that the effect upon our cities has been very very considerable. According to one carefully done study of New York in the years from 1950 to 57 the numbers of non-whites in New York in those years and the non-whites are overwhelmingly negroes increased by twenty six point five percent. Los Angeles has increased its nonwhite population by over 47 percent in the course of the same few years. Gary Indiana by more than 55 percent and send the Yugo California by more than 82 percent in New York City there were about three quarters of a million non-whites in 1950 by 1957 there were about a million and a very great majority of these million non-whites were Negroes. If we take our largest
metropolitan areas as a whole the Negro population has been increasing in them at a much greater rate than the white population in recent years. But what are the effects that such a rapid increase in the Negro population has on these cities. For example we know that of recent years there has been an ever increasing exodus of white families from urban centers out to the suburbs. What effect does this have on the growing negro minority does the presence of an ever growing nonwhite population and urban centers breed racial friction. Can it can we differentiate among cities with regard to how they face up to racial problems. Let me answer your last question first Walt. Although you can lump a group the largest cities for some analytical purposes still for the purpose of certain kinds of analysis one must make differentiations for example in the matter of race relations in various cities. Compared with Chicago places like San Francisco and New York have a relatively good reputation in this area. Well let me inject a statement at this point little which has a bearing on your comments a
statement made by Lester Granger executive secretary of the National Urban League. When we spoke with him some time ago in his New York office I'd like to say first of all that the existence of a theory of heavy negro residence is not necessarily a component and does not listen or produce a concomitant of a bad race relations that wasit is where there are Negro areas of Negro concentration where relationships at. On the surface at least are fairly comical. It takes something more than that it takes a feeling of deep aggrievement on the part of negroes and the exploitation of racial prejudice on the part of whites. And the reason that Chicago is a bad town in terms of race relations the present time is because in Chicago there are elements which are very active in encouraging and I negro feeling that the professional race baiters the racketeers and race hatred who make a living out of it. In Chicago
a New York City on the other hand is a town where there is almost as much segregation a nigger as residentially as in Chicago Chicago is actually Dick described as the most highly segregated city in the country. But New York City is in many ways. In many ways approaches Chicago but has never been the intensity of racial acrimony in New York City that existence Chicago has existed. Jakarta intermittently ever since 1915. The reason of course is a different climate in New York City New York City's not remark a cosmopolitan city a New York City has not been the the terminal point for so many of the racketeers in race hatred coming direct Mississippi from Alabama. Those boys go to Mississippi and they end up in St. Louis is Chicago really the Middle West. Detroit New York City gets the east coast migration mostly and feelings on the East Coast have never been as raw
as nakedly very lived among the Southern whites as they have been among Southern whites in the deep central south. One could go on fairly indefinitely making distinctions of the Congress to Granger suggests but recognizing that refinements and elaborations of various kinds of possible. Let me still an answer to your question cite a case of a somewhat special author the case of Los Angeles on the west coast negro migration to the west coast cities as a very recent thing and in the case of a city like Los Angeles you do have some rather special developments and they grow on the west coast is not alone in being new. A lot of people are new Also money on July you know those are individuals of recent migration. You might almost say that everybody is a foreigner and there has not been the kind of precipitation of attitudes that you have an older communities of the country. The situation is therefore a somewhat unique one for the Negro. At the same time this doesn't mean that the Negro has had an especially easy time of it in Los Angeles
of Los Angeles are somewhat special. Its case nevertheless reveals features that are quite general. Thus we get difficulties developing in situations where when Negroes move into previously restricted areas in the suburbs as well as in the city proper. And what of another problem connected with the changing population picture of the large cities will that a matter of suburban word movement of whites. Well as the Negro population in the urban areas has grown as the proportion of negroes in the cities has increased. There has been a pretty clear tendency for the proportion of negroes in the suburban areas of the largest centers to decline in recent years. One may say generally that the move to the suburbs which is very real is all white. Moreover it is a move on the part of higher income whites the higher income whites tend to go to the suburbs the lower income whites to remain in the centers of the cities who says many interesting consequences. Among the most important for the Negro is this relevant studies have indicated time and again that prejudice against non-whites
is more likely to be entertained by lower income than by higher income groups. Hence the increasingly Negro population in the largest cities increasingly finds itself side by side with the relatively more prejudiced segments of the white population. This is surely one of the more significant factors in the negro's present day Oregon situation. While you're working on the notion I take it that in this case prejudice is likely to go along with discrimination that lower income prejudiced whites will practice discrimination against the negro try to keep him sealed in the Black Belt areas and so on. Yes I think it's a fair assumption in this case. Well let's return to the first and last general of the questions that I asked a while ago about the effects of the rapid increase of the Negro population of Parma cities. I'll try to answer it in part. The negro generally faces the problem of housing shortages as we already know. Of correspondingly very expensive housing the problems given him by hard points of break through to find living space and living quarters there are a
thousand and one additional problems having to do with relations to one's neighbors whether relations to shops shopkeepers with schooling. As these large urban negro I grammar ations appear it has been observed that thousands upon thousands of negroes go through their lives without any substantial contact with members of the white community. The A fact is often that of a riven the society or society split along color lines. A society more and more what our contact between us differently colored human parts certainly contact brings its own problems. But if contact is avoided or eliminated there simply is no chance for the growth of mutually accommodative habits practices and institutions. That sounds rather general and abstract as I understand you you're you're describing a situation in our bigger cities in which Negroes and whites have not managed to create a kind of smooth flowing social setup to a large extent they're out of touch and without bridges between them I suppose various kinds of problems arise now. Can we be
concrete if said there isn't much chance for the growth of mutually accommodative habits practices and institutions. Well that's rather a mouthful What does it mean to say in terms of everyday relations. I've spoken more than once with friends living in some of our largest cities who have indicated the special difficulties arising from the riven Thus the split in the US I've mentioned friends will indicate their willingness their entire willingness in principle to live in mixed neighborhoods. But how shall they cope with some of the problems that inevitably arise. Children have their ordinary troubles and disagreements on the streets. Someone's eye gets blackened. How does one take up this or a more serious thing with a negro neighbor. Perhaps this sort of business isn't easy in any case but now it becomes further complicated because one is afraid of being suspected of a feeling of prejudice. He really doesn't harbor. One is also afraid of arousing special sensitivities on the part of his negro neighbors. It's difficult an ordinarily
difficult to know what to do. And the negro for his part is also perplexed and confused. Might he create the impression of a dislike or hostility he doesn't really feel. Or if he is especially angry how shall we best give expression to that idea. Maybe it would be dangerous for him to speak and act in certain ways. Of course this is an illustration involving relatively small difficulties. You can get murderous antagonisms nor'west by long standing hostile feelings where there are no rules to organize the relationships of people to one another almost anything might happen. People literally don't know how to act. Since there are no precedents no standards for action behavior becomes unpredictable and it may even become explosive when we come close enough to a situation like this in the relations of whites to negroes in our major cities. What are rules and standards for action. What I have a touch of hostility with continued cutting off of negroes from whites you get in a way a set up in which there is no social fabric to we have whites and negroes together.
What I'm talking about is really a problem of bringing Negroes and whites within the scope of one general civilization in a society. Well this is another problem that sounds as though it won't be solved overnight. But let's return for a bit to some of the things we were speaking about earlier in the program the international migrations with which we began the migrations from Europe to America of Irish German Scandinavians English Poles Italians and others after all landed vast numbers of people of these nationalities in our larger urban centers also. Now it's all very well to say as we've done that the Negro is the last migrant but I take it that there are special features of his movement too and residents in the large cities that distinguish his situation from that of the older migrants who must have begun with a situation much like the negroes. Yes certainly they did. But these all the migrants like what one of the old time Chicago sociologist Robert E. park called high visibility. At least they like the negroes high visibility. When I was discussing the negro migration
matter in the perspective of the old and new migration I might have indicated that I was a Chicago sociologist of a generation ago already knew very well there was something that is quite distinctive about the negro migration which I might put in this way when all the migrants came in older than the negro that is came into the centers of our large cities just outside the factory districts where their housing was poor. They were able to move in time. It might perhaps take a couple of generations maybe three generations even off or off or let us say a typical Polish family to move from just outside the loop in Chicago to one of the suburban areas with perhaps a complete name change at the end of the process and a very considerable increase of income for the latest member of the particular Polish family. But the point is that the whites did move out. They very definitely tended to move out and they could move out and their national origin was shall I put this somewhat archly their national origin was in many ways
forgiven them. It wasn't held against them too much they simply moved out then without any overwhelmingly antagonistic identification of themselves by others as Poles Irish Greeks and so on. But the negro was not capable of doing this and is not capable of doing it today. The negro has the particular pigmentation he has and this is an identifying mark he doesn't readily lose. And there's undoubtedly one of the things of tremendous importance that have tended to keep him where he often originally lands in the black belts of our largest cities. This doesn't mean that the negro doesn't move at all. It doesn't mean that he moves only through the expansion of the black belts. He may take it on himself to move not with the mass pressing on the edges of the black belts but on all the lines there are black blocks scattered everywhere yet wherever the negro moves he has to weave in and out among different segregated areas and cities and suburbs. Some other way. Is it true that the earlier migrants lived on a more or less the same slum
conditions which the Negro Now experiences in the center of the bigger cities. And weren't charges leveled against the older European migrants that are leveled against the negro today charges of slovenliness disease and undesired social qualities in general. I think it's quite accurate to answer that in the affirmative I mentioned Robert E. park before and I might recall that an older generation of Chicago social scientists produced a number. Of rather vivid works about their city making points that have a certain relevance to the case of the negro today. The Chicago sociologist noted the tendency of a new immigrant groups to concentrate just outside the factory area of the city outside the loop in the case of Chicago. They used to remark the high incidence of various so-called pathologies just outside the loop area pathologies exemplified by high suicide rates high rates of certain kinds of mental illness and so on. Successively as various immigrant groups moved out from the center of the city poles or Greeks or
Irish or whoever it might be they did not carry the high rates with them the high rates characterize the area and not the people. This suggests that if the negro enjoyed the same relative ease in moving out and obtaining higher income better job situations better residences more elevated status his experience would duplicate that of the earlier immigrant groups. Once again the negro's movement is decidedly more restricted and difficult and to the extent that this is so the Negro is simply not given the chance to demonstrate that in his case to the pathologies may not be proper to the people. But there was a certain type of living area. Well I noticed an interesting thing about the problems we've been discussing. We have mentioned this matter of higher income and less prejudiced whites moving to the suburbs leaving lower income and more prejudiced whites in the city. We stress the isolation of negroes from whites and along with that the absence of a
social fabric binding whites and negroes together within the same general civilization our society will just not stress that this matter of the path ology of the area has some application to the case of the present day negro. It seems to me that one could easily become quite pessimistic about the entire picture we've painted today. These don't look like problems that are easy to resolve. They have to do with major forces and changes in our society. How is one to resolve them. The point is extremely well-taken Walt. I wish I could discuss it in detail I can make two general comments however one is that these and other problems are problems of social policy they can't be readily resolved by individual goodwill although individual goodwill will never hurt. They require some degree of planning they require political action they require attention precisely to some of the major realities of our present day American society. They require imagination and skill and courage.
The other comments of a general nature that I'd like to make is that as we begin to penetrate these things and understand them but the problems that they present may get to appear some books. It may be for example that the interdependent spiral phenomenon to which we've referred before will prove illuminating and applicable in more ways than we now realize. And other words some of the elements in the urban situation and urban problems when worked on in a certain way may pull up other elements and affect an all around beneficial change without our having to sweat out every single difficult problem on its own ground and exclusively in its own terms. And we may get to see that this kind of thing has even a larger scope than we now believe. Yes that is the sort of thing I had in mind. Is it reasonable then to say that though these matters we've been discussing today present thorny questions you're not ready to yield to pessimism. It is reasonable. Well on that note let us and our discussion of migration and urbanization of the negro
and be prepared to move into other areas and following programs. Next week we will take up the subject of the negro and the labor market. As we continue to discuss the world of the last citizen or are you. Let me. Ask Alec and Graham. Our last sort of this program was produced on record for the universe. From the Educational Television and Radio Shack. There's a good. Luck out.
Last citizen
Migration and urbanization
Producing Organization
Purdue University
WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on African Americans and issues of migration and urbanization.
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A series of programs devoted to exploring the problems facing African-Americans and how these issues impact all Americans.
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Social Issues
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Guest: Johnson, Robert B.
Guest: Granger, Lester B. (Lester Blackwell), 1896-1976
Host: Schneider, Louis
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-50-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:05
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Chicago: “Last citizen; Migration and urbanization,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 27, 2023,
MLA: “Last citizen; Migration and urbanization.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 27, 2023. <>.
APA: Last citizen; Migration and urbanization. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from