The South is home for the majority of Black people in this country. There was a time during the days of Jim Crow segregation when millions of Black people - over 6 million to be exact - left the South and headed to the North, Midwest and West. The mass exodus of Black folks between the 1910s and the 1970s, known as the Great Migration, was one of the largest movements of people in United States history. And this mass migration of melanin across the country had a profound impact on American life, as Black people built a presence in cities throughout America and transformed cultural, political and public life everywhere.

Why did they leave? As any refugees would, they fled economic and political oppression, and a “feudal caste system.” Black people were sharecroppers working on the plantation in a highly exploitative scheme, living with the threat of Klan violence, lynching, and all their political rights stripped by the Jim Crow police state. With the onset of World War I, manufacturing jobs grew in the North, and companies recruited Black labor in the South to address their labor shortages.

The Great Migration was actually two migrations: The first stage, which took place between 1910 and 1940, saw two-thirds of people settling in the large cities of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Kansas City, Denver, Louis and Indianapolis. However, the second wave from the 1940s to the 1970s witnessed more movement into the cities mentioned above, with additional locations including the Western destinations of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, California, as well as Phoenix, Seattle and Portland.

The impact of the Great Migration was decisive, allowing Black people to build cultural and political power in the cities they occupied. Consider Harlem, which became a cultural capital of Black America. And through the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, the New York community experienced a cultural, intellectual, literary, musical, artistic, fashion and political explosion.

But the tide turned and the Great Migration reversed. And Black people are returning home to the South, with the potential to change the South once again. And why shouldn’t they return to the place of their ancestors who toiled that land, and in many instances lost that land through theft, intimidation and violence? The South is a new place now, where the road to Black power is in full view - just as it was during Reconstruction, with 2,000 Black elected officials back in the day before the Klan took it all away. Otherwise, why would white folks work overtime in the twenty-first century to steal and suppress the Black vote?

The exodus North has become the exodus to the South, where the weather and the grits are better. Harlem was the cultural capital of Black America a century ago, but now it’s Atlanta. The cradle of the civil rights movement is now a capital of Black culture and economic and political power. The South may rise again, but this time we’re doing it our way, painting the old Confederacy in red, black and green and bringing the family back in a reverse migration to honor the ancestors.

David A. Love, JD - Serves

BlackCommentator.com as Executive

Editor. He is a journalist, commentator,

human rights advocate, a Professor at

the Rutgers University School of

Communication and Information based in

Philadelphia, a contributor to Four

Hundred Souls: A Community History of

African America, 1619-2019, The

Washington Post, theGrio,

AtlantaBlackStar, The Progressive,

CNN.com, Morpheus, NewsWorks and

The Huffington Post. He also blogs at

davidalove.com. Contact Mr. Love and