The Great Migration: An American Story

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9780064434287: The Great Migration: An American Story

This critically acclaimed picture book suitable for a wide range of readers chronicles the Great Migration—the diaspora of African Americans who headed to the North after WWI—through the iconic paintings and words of renowned artist Jacob Lawrence. The New York Times praised it as "a compassionate and sensitive portrayal of history.”

After World War I, large numbers of African Americans began leaving their homes in the rural South in search of employment, and a better life, in the industrial cities of the North like Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Jacob Lawrence chronicled their journey of hope in his sixty-panel Migration Series, a flowing narrative sequence of paintings that can now be found divided between the Museum of Modern Art and the Phillips Collection.

In this profound picture book, Lawrence brings all those landmark paintings together and pairs them with poetic text that further explores the experience of those enduring this mass exodus. From dealing with poor working conditions and competition for living space to widespread prejudice and racism, this is the story of strength, courage, and hope of the more than six million African Americans who were trying to build better lives for themselves and their families.

This book features an introduction from Lawrence—whose family was part of this great migration—about its personal significance as well as a poem by Newbery Honor author Walter Dean Myers.

  • ALA Notable Book
  • ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice
  • IRA/CBC Teachers' Choice
  • Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies (NCSS/CBC)
  • Carter G. Woodson Outstanding Merit Book

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From the Back Cover:

Around the time of WWI, large numbers of African Americans began leaving their homes in the rural South in search of employment in the industrial cities of the North. In 1940, Lawrence chronicled their journey of hope in a flowing narrative sequence of paintings."This stirring picture book brings together the sixty panels of Lawrence's epic narrative Migration series, which he created in 1940-1941. They tell of the journey of African-Americans who left their homes in the South around World War I and traveled in search of better lives in the northern industrial cities. Lawrence is a storyteller with words as well as pictures: his captions and introduction to this book are the best commentary on his work. A poem at the end by Walter Dean Myers also reveals [as do the paintings] the universal in the particulars." ––BL.

Notable Children's Books of 1994 (ALA)
1993 Books for Youth Editors' Choices (BL)
1994 Teachers' Choices (IRA)
Notable 1994 Childrens' Trade Books in Social Studies (NCSS/CBC)
1994 Carter G. Woodson Outstanding Merit Book (NCSS)
1994 Books for the Teen Age (NY Public Library)

About the Author:

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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