Through lynchings, mobs, labor strikes, and more subtle expressions of white supremacy, white Southerners obstructed black Americans’ transformation from bonded to paid laborers after the Civil War. Anxious too about greater equality with blacks during the Reconstruction era, Southern whites started to build the architecture for a Jim Crow South. Historians have long explained that many black Americans responded to the terrors and humiliations of an apartheid regime by moving to the Northern United States in search of the inter-connected promises of greater work opportunities and a more meaningful sense of freedom. There, in the industrial plants of northern cities, African Americans became modern industrial workers.

Historian Paul R. D. Lawrie acknowledges this narrative of the Great Migration in his new book on black industrial labor, Forging a Laboring Race: The African American...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this article.