Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Black American Documentary Films in Streaming: Great Migration

Great Migration

Freedom Bags
" the story of African-American women who migrated from the rural south during the first three decades of the 20th century. Hoping to escape from the racism and poverty of the post-Civil War South, they boarded segregated trains for an uncertain future up North. Having had limited education, most could find jobs only as house workers. With spirit and humor, the women remember their tactics for self preservation in the homes of their employers, where they often faced exploitation and sexual harassment. After hours they relished their independence and enjoyed good times with friends and family...."

Goin' to Chicago
"...chronicles one of the most momentous yet least heralded sagas of American history - the great migration of African Americans from the rural South to the cities of the North and West after World War II. Four million black people created a dynamic urban culture outside the South, changing America forever."

The Great Flood
"The Mississippi River Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in American history. In the spring of 1927, the river broke out of its earthen embankments in 145 places and inundated 27,000 square miles. Part of its legacy was the forced exodus of displaced sharecroppers, who left plantation life and migrated to Northern cities, adapting to an industrial society with its own set of challenges."


The Promised Land "This series documents the migration of rural Southern blacks from the segregated South to Chicago"

  1. Any Place But Here: "After reconstruction, white Americans began to take political and civil rights from black citizens. The first episode sets the historical scene, examining the politics, poverty and aspirations that motivated millions to escape from near slavery and segregation in Mississippi for Chicago, which promised freedom and dignity. Chicago in 1942 was home to a large, respectable black middle class as well as the 'New Negroes' emerging from the war. Now it would need to prepare for and accept its new black citizens."
  2. Sweet Home Chicago: "In the autumn of 1944, the mechanical cotton picker ended the South's need for people to pick cotton by hand. At the same time, Chicago's munitions factories were desperate for labor. So the great migration North to Chicago moved into full swing."
  3. We Stand at the Crossroads: "Alive with the music of Mahalia Jackson and Muddy Waters, this episode describes how rural people blended into Chicago's urban culture. In the 1950s, there were abundant jobs in the stockyards and steel mills and they adapted easily to life on the assembly line. But the dream of the promised land was turning sour. The South Side of Chicago - home for most of the black Americans - had turned into notorious ghetto and was now a ticking time bomb with teenagers forming gangs, while Mayor Daley buried his head in the sand."
  4. More Angry Than Afraid: "This program is a look through the eyes of migrant families at Chicago's turbulent events in the late 1960s and early 1970s. President Johnson's Great Society plan was supposed to alleviate black poverty. But the plan had only boosted the growth of black ghettos. Black citizens cried out against paternalistic city politics and racially exclusionary laws."
  5. The Walls of Jericho: Today more than a third of the population of Chicago is black. It's a direct result of the Great Migration between the 1930s and 1970s when more than five million black Americans left the Deep South for "the promised land." The black tenement blocks of the South and West sides of Chicago are now battle grounds for America's most powerful..."




(Sweet Home Chicago)