The 1865 cessation of the civil war brought enhanced education and job opportunities for many of the Americans who were black. The result of this change was the creation of a black middle class that started to live a lifestyle similar to that of the whites( Hahn, 2003). However equality irrespective of race was dealt a major blow when the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation is a constitutional practice. This ruling made life even more unbearable especially to those afro-Americans living in the south. According to Hahn ,(2003)this ruling, coupled with the infestation of cotton crops by boll weevils bogged down the economy in the south and as a result decreased the amount of labor required in that area. Due to this, there was mass movement of the blacks to North America and thus the Great Migration.
In North America, life was a little bearable to the blacks. Racial discrimination was less practiced and everybody was accorded the right to vote. Good education was as guaranteed to Afro-Americans as well as their offspring. Due to the effects of the First World War and the industrial revolution, the north offered numerous openings for jobs which the Afro-Americans needed (Gilbertlove,1997).The first effect of this movement was that it led to changes in the demographic structure of the population.
It has been estimated that close to half a million blacks left the south between 1916-1918 so as to take up jobs that had been created as a result of the effects of the First World War(Hahn, 2003). Isabel Wilkerson, an award winning journalist estimated that close to six million blacks migrated from the south to the north and mid-west. Due to this, some states ended up having huge numbers of Afro-Americans, Cleveland being an example. In the south this migration reduced the proportion of black people by a significant margin with Gibson et al (2002) estimating that there was a 25% reduction in the population of blacks between 1910 and 1970.
Due to the sudden influx of a large number of people, the blacks were many times resented by the Euro-American working class. This was caused by the fear of the competition they would bring in jobs. With time, the Afro-Americans made huge progresses in employment in industries dominating the meat packing, ship building, steel and the automobile industries. The formation of labor unions increased their negotiating power and as a result many advanced into more skillful jobs and supervisory positions (Hahn, 2003).
The great migration also highlighted the challenges of integrating a society that is segregated. In the beginning, migrants faced discrimination and at times were barred from residing in some areas. Crude measures such as protests in front of residences, killings and bombings were meted on the blacks by the whites. As the blacks worked and lived more closely with the whites, the racial divide was slowly worn out. This time is regarded as the turning point of many Afro -Americans from rural farmers to workers in urban industries( Gilbertlove,1997).