The Great Migration In Goin to Chicago

The documentary “Goin to Chicago” talks about the great migration of African American citizens from the south who were on their way to the north and west for a better life. Many chose to go to Chicago for the job opportunities, and recommendations from their friends and family had greatly influenced them to make the decision to go. Upon arrival, many were discriminated by the whites due to the color of their skin and some white people tried to prevent black individuals from just walking in the neighborhood. Each individual spoke about the experiences they encountered in the south. Many spoke about sharecropping and the hard labor they endured in the heat with hardly any breaks.

These men and women for looking for better pay in factory’s in Chicago, they fought for fair housing opportunities that weren’t just located in the “ghetto”. Even though it seemed like they were on their way to more comfortable life, many were stuck in public housing and inner-city despair due to steel mills and stockyards being closed down. It was hard for African Americans to obtain a mortgage due to the fact that realtors would use blockbusting as a way to get black folks away from white communities.

This reminded me of our reading from Harrison and Harrison in which the author included the term racial vindication, he said “Vindicationism emerged in reaction to racist assertions that African’s are degraded savages, that Africans and African Americans have no culture, that blacks are inherently inferior, and that miscegenation is degenerative to whites and white culture” (Harrison & Harrison, pg. 12). From my experience, this documentary portrayed the current state of our democracy in this country. A good democracy does not include hate because of someone’s skin color, but has legal equality, political freedom, and rule of law and its unfortunate that in today’s society, African Americans are still dealing with injustice by white people and the higher social class. The Great Migration goes in par with the United States current dilemma with refugees, whom are dealing with violence at home and are hoping to arrive into the U.S to find a better life. African Americans were willing to go great distances to reach economic stability.

The reason this reading reminded me of the movie was because the white folks were not prepared for the great migration, and their hatred towards black Americans was strictly based on rumors they heard from their friends and family in the south regarding African Americans. I really enjoyed hearing the Blues music throughout the film and how referenced a hangout spot in Chicago called Artis’s Bar. It helped me learn more about where and when this genre started and how it formed from normal people who were struggling just like the others.

I love learning about how African Americans conquered any obstacles they encountered by never giving up. The documentary really showed how hard working these men and women are. They left their home back in the south to create a better future for their family and fought through the racial oppression that was occurring at the time.


  1. Harrison, F. V., & Harrison, I. E. (1999). Introduction: Anthropology, African Americans, and the Emancipation of a Subjugated Knowledge. In I. Harrison, & F. Harrison (Eds.), African-American Pioneers in Anthropology (pp. 1-36). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
07 July 2022
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