The Great Migration

Overview

The historic migration of African Americans from the rural South to northern cities in the early decades of the 20th century is chronicled in text and Jacob Lawrence's paintings.

After an introduction from the artist about the migration of blacks from the rural areas in the South to the urban, industrialized North, there follows a collection of paintings that capture images of these events. A brief text connects the pictures, which were painted in the early 1940s. ...

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Overview

The historic migration of African Americans from the rural South to northern cities in the early decades of the 20th century is chronicled in text and Jacob Lawrence's paintings.

After an introduction from the artist about the migration of blacks from the rural areas in the South to the urban, industrialized North, there follows a collection of paintings that capture images of these events. A brief text connects the pictures, which were painted in the early 1940s. These are powerful images showing the difficulties of the journey as well as the strong support of families and friends. Many audiences will want to examine this visual history. A poem, "Migration" by Walter Dean Myers, follows the illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Hazel Rochman
This stirring picture book published in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art and the Phillips Collection brings together the 60 panels of Lawrence's epic narrative "Migration" series, which he created in the years 1940-41. They tell of the journey of African Americans who left their homes in the South around the time of World War I and traveled in search of work and better lives in the northern industrial cities. Lawrence is a storyteller with words as well as pictures: his captions and his own 1992 introduction to this book are the best commentary on his work. "To me, migration means movement," he says, and the rhythmic pictures show people--alone and together--leaving, walking, waiting, working, traveling the route to possibility. The sequence isn't linear; as in family stories, the pictures keep circling back to what they left behind. The story is both personal and elemental: Lawrence heard about the migration from his own family, and the paintings have an immediacy that pulls you right into the frames, so that you feel you're there with the child in line at the railway station or with the woman in a tenement reading a letter from home. The repeated motifs in simple shapes and bright primary colors express the common history of ordinary people; the refrain "and the migrants kept coming" still applies today. A poem at the end by Walter Dean Myers also reveals the universal in the particulars of the "small rope-tied case" and the "food that will not last the long journey." Older readers may want to go from this book to the large-size reproductions and the essays in the adult art book "Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series". Many will want to see the exhibition of these paintings that is currently touring the country.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780780753488
  • Publisher: Harpercollins Childrens Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 713,372
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Author Bio Jacob Lawrence is a prominent American painter whose career spans six decades. He is known for several sequences of narrative paintings, including "Harriet Tubman" and "Frederick Douglass." Lawrence is the illustrator of Harriet in the Promised Land, a picture book. He is Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of Washington, Seattle.
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