Migration Panels

Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series comprises 60 individual panels illustrating key aspects of the Great African-American Migration, which was in full swing as he created the series in 1941. Half of Lawrence’s presentation of this critical story is available at MoMA in New York City and half is available at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC.

Each panel is beautiful and important in its own right, but we are very pleased that we are able to present, and make available, the entire collection here in one place.

The Migration Series, Panel no. 1: During World War I there was a great migration north by southern African Americans.

Jacob Lawrence


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Migration panel 2. The World War had caused a great shortage in Northern industry and also citizens of foreign countries were returning home.

Jacob Lawrence


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The Migration Series, Panel no. 3: From every southern town migrants left by the hundreds to travel north.

Jacob Lawrence


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Migration panel 4. The Negro was the largest source of labor to be found after all others had been exhausted.

Jacob Lawrence


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The Migration Series, Panel no. 5: Migrants were advanced passage on the railroads, paid for by northern industry. Northern industry was to be repaid by the migrants out of their future wages.

Jacob Lawrence


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Migration panel 6. The trains were packed continually with migrants.

Jacob Lawrence


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The Migration Series, Panel no. 7: The migrant, whose life had been rural and nurtured by the earth, was now moving to urban life dependent on industrial machinery.

Jacob Lawrence


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Migration panel 8. They did not always leave because they were promised work in the North. Many of them left because of Southern conditions, one of them being great floods that ruined the crops, and therefore they were unable to make a living where they were.

Jacob Lawrence


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The Migration Series, Panel no. 9: They left because the boll weevil had ravaged the cotton crop.

Jacob Lawrence


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Migration panel 10. They were very poor.

Jacob Lawrence


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The Migration Series, Panel no. 11: Food had doubled in price because of the war.

Jacob Lawrence


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Migration panel 12. The railroad stations were at times so over-packed with people leaving that special guards had to be called in to keep order.

Jacob Lawrence


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The Migration Series, Panel no. 13: The crops were left to dry and rot. There was no one to tend them.

Jacob Lawrence


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Migration panel 14. Among the social conditions that existed which was partly the cause of the migration was the injustice done to the Negroes in the courts.

Jacob Lawrence


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The Migration Series, Panel no. 15: There were lynchings.

Jacob Lawrence


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Migration panel 16. Although the Negro was used to lynching, he found this an opportune time for him to leave where one had occurred.

Jacob Lawrence


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