The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America

Nicholas Lemann, Author
Nicholas Lemann, Author Alfred A Knopf Inc $24.95 (410p) ISBN 978-0-394-56004-5
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
As cotton farming became increasingly mechanized, an estimated five million blacks migrated from the rural South to the urban North between 1940 and 1970. Lemann, Atlantic contributing editor, re-creates this vast migration in microcosm by focusing on a handful of blacks who left the Mississippi Delta for Chicago's slums. Intertwined with their personal stories are several subplots: high-level wrangling in JFK's and LBJ's war on poverty; Chicago Mayor Richard Daley applying the ?? brake to integration efforts; the raging debate over the root causes of the persistence of an underclass; the crumbling of an interracial, nonviolent civil rights movement and its replacement by the furtherance of black programs as a black cause. One of Lemann's main aims is to refute the widespread belief that all the federal government's past efforts to help the black poor failed. He sketches a framework for a wholesale assault on poverty. This compellingly dramatic, vivid document speaks to the nation's racial conscience. 40,000 first printing; BOMC, History Book Club and QPB alternates. (Mar.)
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