Arc of Justice

Arc of Justice

by

Kevin Boyle

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Great Migration Term Analysis

The Great Migration was a massive movement of Black Americans from southern states to northern states that took place primarily between 1910 and 1970. Poor economic conditions, racism, Jim Crow segregation, and public acceptance of lynchings encouraged six million people to uproot their lives in the rural South and seek out economic opportunity, primarily in the urban centers of the North. The demographic shifts in northern cities instigated by the Great Migration also led directly to the rise of nativist sentiment, Ku Klux Klan membership, and increasing segregation.

Great Migration Quotes in Arc of Justice

The Arc of Justice quotes below are all either spoken by Great Migration or refer to Great Migration. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
).
Prologue Quotes

In the early 1920s, sophisticates scrambled to grab a share of the black life that southern migration was bringing into the cities. White producers mounted all-black musicals. White couples fumbled with the Charleston. And white patrons poured into Chicago’s South Side jazz joints and Harlem’s nightclubs. If they were lucky, they squeezed into the Vendome, where Louis Armstrong held the floor, or Edmund’s Cellar, where Ethel Waters sang the blues. The frenzy was shot through with condescension. White slummers thought black life exciting because it was “primitive” and vital. Visiting the ghetto’s haunts became the era’s way to snub mainstream society, to be in the avant-garde.

Related Characters: Ossian Sweet
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

Neighborhoods and businesses weren’t the only places where Negroes were increasingly unwelcome: at Scarborough’s beloved Oberlin, there was talk of black and white students taking their Bible studies in separate classes. None of this segregation had the sanction of law—state civil rights statutes remained on the books—and it wasn’t consistently applied: it was a patchwork of practices differing from place to place and even street to street. But for colored people, the trend was frighteningly familiar.

Page Number: 78-9
Explanation and Analysis:

A life in medicine would give Ossian the status he dreamed of—and the money he craved: a doctor could easily take home fifteen hundred dollars a year, an almost unimaginable amount to a young man whose father probably earned a fifth of that figure. If Ossian should rise in the profession, as he intended to do, his income could go even higher […] But it wasn’t the money alone that mattered. A high income would give him the outward signs of success: the dapper clothes he had never had a chance to wear, the fashionable home so different from the farmhouse his father had built. But to be called doctor—Doctor Ossian H. Sweet—that would be the greatest mark of respect he could imagine.

Related Characters: Ossian Sweet
Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 85-86
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

But it was mounting discrimination in the real estate market that increasingly sealed Negroes into Black Bottom. Since the early 1910s, white real estate agents and landlords in Chicago and New York had refused to so much as show Negroes homes in white neighborhoods, saying that the presence of colored people depressed property values. In the course of the Great War, these practices spread to Detroit. Not every real estate agent or landlord signed on: if colored folks were willing to pay a premium for a piece of property in a white part of town, some real estate men were happy to oblige them. But to defy the new racial conventions took more courage—or more avarice—than many real estate agents and landlords had. So discriminatory practices passed from office to office, property to property, and racial hatred gradually turned into common business practice, the way things were done.

Related Characters: Ossian Sweet
Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:

While Du Bois pledged that Negroes would return from Europe ready to fight for equal rights, socialists A. Phillip Randolph and Chandler Owen preached the power of armed resistance. “We are…urging Negroes and other oppressed groups confronted with lynching and mob violence to act upon the recognized and accepted law of self-defense,” the pair wrote during the bloody summer of 1919. “Always regard your own life as more important than the life of the person about to take yours, and if a choice has to be made between the sacrifice of your life and the loss of the lyncher’s life, chose to preserve your own and to destroy that of the lynching mob.”

Related Characters: W. E. B. Du Bois, Ossian Sweet
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

But it was nothing more than a façade, as inside the police headquarters, corruption was rampant, and every Negro in the city knew that justice received here would be tempered at best, lethal at worst. Colored people raised in Alabama, Mississippi, or Florida hardly expected justice to be blind, but still they despised the blinding prejudice that seemed to consume Detroit’s cops. Colored men were two and a half times more likely to be arrested than whites, colored women almost seven times as likely as their Caucasian counterparts. Once they were in custody, Negroes routinely were held for days without being formally charged and often were denied access to lawyers—sometimes suspects were moved from precinct to precinct so they couldn’t be found, then were threatened and even beaten until they confessed.

Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:

The Klan was in the ascendancy; the Negroes’ white allies on the bench had deserted them; the mayor they had helped to elect had endorsed injustice and declared the pursuit of civil rights a threat to peace and liberal democracy. No longer was this simply a question of whether the Sweets were justified in firing into the mob on Garland Avenue. Now the Talented Tenth was locked in combat against segregation itself, battling to preserve some shred of the promise that brought almost a million people out of the South in the previous ten years, to show that the North was different, to prove that there were places in America where Jim Crow would not be allowed to rule. This had become a fight over fundamentals.

Related Characters: Ossian Sweet, Gladys Sweet, John Smith
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:
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Great Migration Term Timeline in Arc of Justice

The timeline below shows where the term Great Migration appears in Arc of Justice. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Where Death Waits
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
The Great Migration ratcheted up racial tensions in Detroit. In the first half of 1925, the police—many of... (full context)