My time home in Chicago has been amazing so far. On the day after Christmas, I popped by my childhood library to do some reading on the Great Migration. June 19th marked the 150th anniversary of when the last Black slaves were freed in Texas, and those years between 1915-70 are a fascinating part of the arc of our history. In those fifty-five years, nearly six million Black Southerners made their ways up north and to the coasts. Those years ushered the Blues north to Chicago and amplified it and set its newest citizens on fire in a similar way. Georgians became New Yorkers, Alabamians Detroiters, and Texans became Californians in a domestic leavetaking the likes of which the United States had never seen.
Our cities would never look (or sound) the same.
Now, as a Great Migration grandchild and family historian, I made a point to sift through my records during this trip and soon found myself enraptured by the expansive Vivian G. Harsh collection at the Woodson branch on 95th and Halsted. I took at a gander at a few boxes of the Abbott-Sengstacke papers and gingerly handled letters, stocks, and speech transcriptions that were at the heart of the Chicago Defender's founding. I sifted through archives while grinning and recorded this Periscope for you lovely folks at home.