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History of Harlem. To fully understand the Harlem ghetto, one must examine the history of Afro-American settlement in New York. During the years preceding World War I, a slow but steady migration of Blacks from the Southern countryside to the Northern cities began. This period is generally referred to as the advance guard of the "Great Migration," which occurred during World War I. It is during this era that we find "the migration of the talented tenth" - the Blacks who came to the big cities to become lawyers, doctors, businessmen and politicians. Actually, these people represented only a small portion of the Southern migrants. The rest were young inexperienced "boys and girls," fresh off the farm. These young people had lived on the sharecropper and tenant farms of their parents, they had been subjected to the initiation of a score of Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan. But worst of all, they saw their parents, who were content to submit to the abuses of a Southern caste society. In order not to lose all hope, they fled the land in which they were born, and sought the "freedom" of the Northern cities. the migrants' pet phrase, "I came North to better my condition," expresses simply the attitude of the Southern Black at this time. Now was the time for them to move, as the country's industrial expansion created economic opportunity for the rural people. So they began leaving the South in great numbers, and as they did, Southern cities reflected on their migration. In the minds of most Southerners, Negroes seemed racially adapted to agricultural life, permanently tied to the soil. To forsake farm life would necessarily lead to their degradation. This was their only "proper calling," their "proper place." Instead of creating conditions which would encourage Blacks to remain in the South, Southerners took the opposite view and made it almost impossible for Blacks to leave the farm. Unfortunately, these Black migrants did not find their "promised land" in the Northern cities. Instead, they found the alienation and the "evil temptations" of the big city. In New York, Blacks made their way to the "Tenderloin" (Seventh Avenue and 34th Street area), and "San Juan Hill"
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