slavery from the books "Journal of Negro History." Specifically it will critically analyze and evaluate the texts while keeping the time period in mind. This is a collection of numerous texts relating to the black experience in the South, the black migration north to look for jobs, and the experience of Jim Crow laws, segregation, and prejudice on the black American population. Since there are so many authors, there is really no one main argument, except to share the black experience and illustrate just how difficult life was for black Americans after the Civil War.
The first selections is "Northern Newspapers Agitating for Change," and it contains several documents from the early 20th century asking readers to consider change and true emancipation for America's black residents. Many of these letters and articles are difficult to read, because they point back to a time in American history when there was so much racial intolerance and hatred, and it was accepted in so many parts of the country. One article reads, "During the 30-year period from 1889 to 1918, lynching mobs murdered 3,224 persons in the United States, of whom 2,522 were Negroes, and 702 white persons" (Various Authors). This is a time period that ended less than one hundred years ago, and yet thousands of people were still dying by lynching.
It is a difficult thing to believe, and this source illustrates that intolerance is a relatively common occurrence in history, and that racial prejudice and hatred did not die with the Civil War, in fact, it only intensified. Today, lynching seems barbaric and inherently cruel, but it was still prevalent less then a century ago, and white people were lynched, too. History shows that all these deaths but one took place in the American south, and most of these articles and letters address the south, begging them to do something constructive about the "Negro" problem. These letters are also frightening, as they illustrate the extend of the problem, with courts siding with white schoolchildren and Jim Crow laws on the railroad, indicating how little rights the Negroes really had in early 20th century America. Perhaps the worst illustration of prejudice and hatred is the W.E.B. DuBois letter that talks about black veterans of World War I coming home and being lynched. It is a truly sad statement about the history of blacks in America, and the point is, hatred exists between blacks and whites, and laws cannot stop it, only the people themselves can change their behavior and their views.
The "Letters to the Defender" section is extremely poignant because it illustrates how blacks have always wanted to better themselves, and how whites throughout history have obstructed them. The writers are men, most of them family men, attempting to raise children and do the best that they can in difficult circumstances. All they want is a job where they can make a living wage and live without fear. One man writes, "I want a job in a small town some where in north where I can receive verry good wages and where I can educate my 3 little girls and demand respect of intelegence" (Various Authors). These letters indicate how desperate many blacks were to get out of the south, get away from persecution, and make a better life for themselves, but their families, too.
This "great migration" in history is not hard to understand. In the south, blacks had little to look forward to, and little hope for a better future. In the north, they at least had a chance at a better job, even if they had to live in the slums and face difficulties. Chances are, in the north, at least they would not face lynching, and their children could begin to get an education. This indicates again, how difficult it was to be black during this time, but it also illustrates that these black people were no different from anyone else. They just wanted a better life for their families, and they just wanted to make a decent living without fear and prejudice. It is hard not to sympathize with them, and it is certainly easy to understand why they wanted to leave the south, even if it was the only home they had ever known.
This was a time of great transition in the…