The Great Migration was the movement of 5 million African-Americans out of the rural Southern United States to the urban Northeast, Midwest, and West that occurred between 1915 and 1960. Until 1910, more than 90 percent of the African-American population lived in the American South. In 1900, only one-fifth of African-Americans living in the South were living in urban areas. By the end of the Great Migration, 53 percent of the African-American population remained in the South, while 40 percent lived in the North, and 7 percent in the West, and the African-American population had become highly urbanized. By 1970, more than 80 percent of African-Americans lived in cities, and by 1960, of those African-Americans still living in the South, half now lived in urban areas. In 1991, Nicholas Lemann wrote that the Great Migration:
was one of the largest and most rapid mass internal movements in history—perhaps the greatest not caused by the immediate threat of execution or starvation. In sheer numbers it outranks the migration of any other ethnic group—Italians or Irish or Jews or Poles—to [the United States]. For blacks, the migration meant leaving what had always been their economic and social base in America, and finding a new one.
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