Sample Book Review of the Great African-American migration

The black community was undermined by forced separation and limited social interaction during the slavery years. After the civil wars, African Americans were determined to achieve their freedom. Kendra Field focused on the mobility and migration of African-Americans after the civil war and how it affected them socially and politically. In her book, African American Migration and Mobility after the Civil war, the author takes us through how the interactions of the black community redeemed them from slavery. The author has managed to demonstrate the effects of unity and human interactions in attaining the desired goal. The African Americans transition from a slavery lifestyle to freedom is a phenomenon of great magnitude, and thus, the author has used it to show how a socially united community is vital in the progression of society.

Kendra Field captures the transition of African-Americans after the civil wars and examines how they pulled together to overcome social dislocation and to create a viable community. Depending on the type of crops that were grown, in various areas African-American population was dense in these regions; for instance, tobacco, cotton, rice, and sugarcane required intensive labor thus the black community was higher in these regions(Field, 72). The variation of the black population was a decision by the white landowners. In areas where the blacks were highly populated, social interactions would intensify and, in the process attracting stronger ties among them. These ties would then turn to a source of ideological revolution, political participation, and migration. The author focuses on the strength in the unity of the blacks, especially in areas where they were highly populated and the resulting impacts of these social interactions.

The author examines the benefits of stronger social ties and opportunities that resulted from them — for example, the postbellum opportunities and constraints. During the first reconstruction period that began in 1865, and intensified between 1870 through the 1890s, African-Americans were given a chance to cast votes and elect their leaders (Field, 98). The increase in the population of Africans enabled them to have a voice in the political scene. Moreover,  a chance of migration presented itself whereby, between 1916 and 1930s, the great migration towards cities of the North took place. However, in areas where blacks were few, they were constrained from enjoying these opportunities. Thus in this article, the author outlines a mutual benefit that exists between numbers, political participation, and migration. Therefore, in places where the population of  Africans-Americans were many, they enjoyed both social and political benefits.

African-Americans enjoyed economic prospects as soon as the civil war ended. As the great migration happened between 1916 and 30s, that involved over a million blacks, the demand for labor in various markets grew. African-Americans were migrating toward the North. Challenges such as racial segregation and violence motivated more blacks to migrate towards the Northern cities. Field noted that the imbalanced migration of labor brought both favorable and unfavorable circumstances that demanded stimulation of economic activities. Formation of various recruitment agencies such as the Urban League was linking employers to workers at a fee (Field, 120). The African networks also linked their colleagues to multiple types of jobs that were available, which ranged from skilled, unskilled, and manufacturing tasks. However, since most of the employers were racists, the African-Americans were forced into hard jobs that required muscles and not skills.

Field argues that indeed the African-Americans could have overcome centuries of slavery and social separation if they could have stuck together. The author outlines the benefits accrued out of a united front. She has employed several sources to derive satisfaction for her arguments. The author has used Chay’s opinions to show how various statistical phenomena have been put in play to determine the relationship between the numbers and the opportunities that arose out of these densities (4). The author also adopted Chay, Kenneth, and Kaivan Munshi observation on Africans participation in political scenes to conclude that that upon meeting a certain threshold in terms of numbers, African-Americans could not add value in political participation (62). Furthermore, the author applied empirical analysis by examining the relationship between plantations, networks, and relationships that exists and aiming towards accrued advantages. The nonparametric association of these elements established that some farms helped in putting together Africans, and thus, stronger ties arose.

The African- Americans were able to migrate after the civil war. The mobility of Africans was initially limited to their place of work. The author shows how the migration and mobility of African-Americans began after the civil war. She explains the movement of African-Americans to the North and how their interactions benefited them as a community. The author demonstrates how the liberation of African Americans started from their mobility. Kendra Field not only focuses on the benefits that accompanied the migration of Africans to the North but also demonstrated that when people come together, they can achieve great things.






Works cited

Chay, Kenneth, and Kaivan Munshi. “Black networks after emancipation: evidence from reconstruction and the Great Migration.” Unpublished working paper (2012).

Field, Kendra. “Introduction: African American Migration and Mobility After the Civil War, 1865–1915.” (2017): 421-426.