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The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America Paperback – October 24, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0807856512 ISBN-10: 0807856517 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

Review

""The Southern Diaspora" establishes a new standard for studies of internal migration in the United States. Gregory has brilliantly set black and white southern migration in an intelligent and informed conversation with one another--not to argue that they are part of the same process, and not simply to compare them, but to show a relationship between them, and a larger relationship to other social, political, economic, and cultural forces. (James Grossman, The Newberry Library) "

Review

The Southern Diaspora establishes a new standard for studies of internal migration in the United States. Gregory has brilliantly set black and white southern migrations in an intelligent and informed conversation with one another--not to argue that they are part of the same process, and not simply to compare them, but to show a relationship between them, and a larger relationship to other social, political, economic, and cultural forces.--James Grossman, The Newberry Library |Stunning. The Southern Diaspora is much more than a synthesis of existing literatures; it is an empircially-based, national-level study of the experiences and impact of the tens of millions of white and black southerners who left the region over the past century. . . . An enormous success. . . . Seamlessly blends sophisticated quantitative methods with informed social and cultural analysis. . . . This work is calling for major changes in how we study and understand mass population movements.--Journal of Appalachian Studies|Written in an engaging and lively style, Gregory shares numerous stories about individual migrants, black and white alike, as they struggle to adjust to their new surroundings.--Journal of the West|[The Southern Diaspora] moves the study of internal migration beyond economic or demographic statistics, or even historical reports of individual stories, and places the Great Migration in a more comprehensive context. In particular, Gregory makes wonderful linkages among migration, race, class, and social change. . . . This book is essential reading for anyone interested in migration but also for those with an eye on race, class, and sociocultural change in twentieth-century America.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History|Gregory analyzes and contextualizes . . . symbiotic migrations in his illuminating and timely (not to mention conceptually original) new book. . . . A sustained, well-written exploration of two unique, yet interwoven, migrations that changed the face of American society.--Journal of American History|Gregory sets a new standard. . . . His work will serve as a model as future scholars extend his insights.--Canadian Journal of History|Fascinating.--Seattle Times|The Southern Diaspora not only brings together heretofore largely separate black and white migration stories, but also shows how these intertwined though quite different population movements both energized and changed the twentieth century economy, culture, and politics of the urban North and West.--Joe W. Trotter, Carnegie Mellon University |Gregory's endeavor raises some intriguing points. . . . [Gregory's] book is a much-needed and fresh look into the discourse of American migration studies.--Alabama Review|This well-researched and documented work will now be required reading for historians and sociologists interested in the impact of internal migration on American society. . . . This is solid scholarship that integrates a significant amount of secondary sources while introducing the reader to an array of original work. It will remain pertinent for years to come, and should spawn additional research.--Journal of Social History|This book does an excellent job of not only providing historical data but also making the reader see the migration as that of real people. . . . Gregory has done a fine job of providing meaningful data in a readable book.--Multicultural Review|Written in an engaging style, with numerous personal vignettes to enliven the narrative. . . . The writing, the comprehensive treatment, and the paperback edition make the book ideal for classroom use.--American Historical Review|The first comprehensive study of migrations from the South to the North and West during the twentieth century.--Arkansas Historical Quarterly|With The Southern Diaspora Gregory has set a new standard for understanding the 20th century southern migration." Journal of African American History|An engagingly written and conceptually original study that significantly enhances our understanding of how southern migration redefined the United States. Gregory makes great use of the life stories of individuals, both ordinary and famous to illustrate the broader transformations he describes. . . . An enormously informative study of value to all students of modern America.--Journal of American Ethnic History|Outstanding. . . . On the leading edge of a growing interdisciplinary literature . . . a must-read for all scholars and students.--Journal of Regional Science|Likely to become a standard title in the bibliography of important works on twentieth century American history.--Arkansas Libraries
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (October 24, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807856517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807856512
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By George Fulmore on July 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have an interest in immigration and migration issues, and I've previously read several books on the subject. But, until now, I've known very little about the huge internal migration from the American South to the North, Mid-west and West that took place in the first part of the 20th century. This book appears to be comprehensive and thorough on this complex subject. The book flows well, is stuffed with valuable statistics and facts, and, for the most part, is a joy to read. I highly recommend it.

Per the author, more than 28 million Southerners migrated out of The South during the 20th century. Of those, about 20 million were white, eight million were Black. Another one million Latinos also participated. Most moved in the 40's, but there was a steady stream in the other decades, until the 1970's, when migration leveled off, then went the other way.

In 1900, more than 90% of American Blacks lived in The South. By 1970, half of all American Blacks lived outside The South. Most of the migrants, Black and White, went to the Great Lakes states; most Latino migrants ended up in California.

The author says that job opportunities, alone, do not explain why decisions were made to move. The South at that time was largely rural and agricultural-based. There were few factories and little industry other than agriculture. Educational opportunities had fallen behind other areas of the country for all groups.

A major reason for migration was that America had narrowed its doors to foreign immigrants between 1925 and 1965 by a series of immigration control laws. This factor encouraged internal immigration. World War I factory production created millions of new jobs, mostly in the North. Young adults were the most likely to move.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a kid I grew up wondering why everyone in our neighborhood in south eastern PA came from the mountains of North Carolina, had family down there, called it "down home" and expected to "go south" a couple of times every year. I never realized that this was true of many northern rural communities until I read this book. It never occurred to me that it was odd for someone such as myself (born in Pa and raised in PA and Delaware) would consider himself southern by birth.

It turns out there are many such enclaves in the north, centered around the sites of defense industry plants in WWII. I never realized that the area we lived in was comparable to a place like Little Italy or Chinatown until Dr Gregory's book made it clear that this is what people NORMALLY do during a diaspora. I also didn't realize that people like me who grew up in the north but always felt out of place there are now flowing back into the south, following the work the same way our grandfathers did. It turns out my migration from the crowded north to the industrial economy of TN is just one of millions occurring today. It felt good to receive that validation from this book.

The book also makes a very good point that the Southern Diaspora was not one migration, but two separate but parallel migrations; one black and one white. It was a shock to me to learn that southern blacks were looked down upon by northern blacks, much the same as us southern whites were viewed as trash by many northern whites.

This is a fascinating read for anyone who has lived in (or even been born and raised in) the north, but knew it was never really "home". Dr Gregory has also written extensively about similar migrations to California and the Pacific Northwest from Oklahoma and Arkansas. I can't say I've read them, but if that migration is closer to your own heritage, I recommend checking out those books for yourself.
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3 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Hector on September 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
On p. 170, the author claims that Shoeless Joe Jackson got his nickname when he arrived in Philadelphia barefoot after a train ride from his South Carolina home. In fact, however, he earned this nickname after he played a minor league game in his socks because a new pair of spiked baseball shoes gave him blisters the day before. I'm skeptical of a book that misses such an extraordinary fact as this.
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The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America
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