The Great Migration of blacks from the American south to nearly every other corner of the nation, is being revived by the descendents of those who fled. Except this time, the migration is from the North, back to the South. Black New Yorkers, including many who are young and college educated, have left the state in droves; 17 percent of the blacks who moved to the South from other states in the past 10 years came from New York, according to The New York Times. The newspaper reports that of the 44,474 who left the state in 2009, more than half went to the South.
“The percentage of blacks leaving big cities in the East and Midwest are heading to the South is now at the highest levels in decades,” the Times reports. “MIddle-class enclaves, like Jamaica and St. Albans in Queens, are feeding this exodus. Black luminaries — like James Brown, W.E.B. DuBois and Ella Fitzgerald — once lived in St. Albans, a neighborhood that is now being hit by high unemployment and foreclosures.”
Though those interviewed in the report site various reasons for their departure — a spiritual connection to the South, family with whom they’d like to reconnect — the recurring theme is the chance for an economic fresh start. Although the cost of living disparity between the two regions is well-known, before, it was a worthy sacrifice to live in cities with booming industries and far from the sting of Jim Crow. But now, with cities like Houston constantly ranking high on lists of places that young professionals can flourish in, the struggle of cramped big city life in the North is less necessary.
From the TImes: “New York has lost some of its cachet for black people,” Professor Spencer Crew said. “During the Great Migration, blacks went north because you could find work if you were willing to hustle. But today, there is less of a struggle to survive in the South than in New York. Many blacks also have emotional and spiritual roots in the South. It is like returning home.”