Black southerners faced a host of social, economic, and political challenges that prompted their migration to the North.The majority of black farmers labored as sharecroppers, remained in perpetual debt, and lived in dire poverty.
Their condition worsened in 1915–16 as a result of a boll weevil infestation that ruined cotton crops throughout the South.
These economic obstacles were made worse by social and political oppression.
The war did, however, have a significant impact on African Americans, particularly the majority who lived in the South.
The war years coincided with the Great Migration, one of the largest internal movements of people in American history.
When war erupted in Europe in August 1914, most Americans, African Americans included, saw no reason for the United States to become involved.
This sentiment strengthened as war between the German-led Central Powers and the Allied nations of France, Great Britain, and Russia ground to a stalemate and the death toll increased dramatically.
Between 19, roughly 500,000 black southerners packed their bags and headed to the North, fundamentally transforming the social, cultural, and political landscape of cities such as Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.
The Great Migration would reshape black America and the nation as a whole.
World War I was a transformative moment in African-American history.
What began as a seemingly distant European conflict soon became an event with revolutionary implications for the social, economic, and political future of black people.