Lorraine Hansberry in her play, “Raisin in the Sun”, attempted to explain the feelings of the average African American Male in the 1940s. This persona, which is portrayed in the character Walter, had experienced a severe feeling of depression and hopelessness. In order to understand this source of grievance, one must relate back to the Great Migration and the dreams it promised and the reasons why many African Americans sought to move to the North. A desire to achieve freedom from racial injustices and poverty was the prime factor that encouraged Blacks to abandon the south. However, these dreams where soon crushed as African American noticed that Northern whites had still maintained unequal segregation and where as stumbling block to Black advancement. The consequences of a “dream deferred”, as Langston Hughes called it, was dependency on others, alcohol addiction, as well as dysfunctional families.
The Great Migration, which lasted from 1910 to 1930, was the first mass movement of African Americans from the South to the North. There was one main factor that led to new job opportunities which attracted many African Americans to industrialized cites in the North. The occurrence of World War I in Europe had increased U.S. factories and factory productions as European nations, involved in the war, depended on the United States to replenish their supplies. Likewise, the war decreased laborers in the United States as it abridged the migration of many European immigrants to the U.S. as well as toke many citizens as soldiers which caused a massive vacancy in the work field. Philip Bonner, from the University of the Witwatersrand, explained this phenomena as he said, “It was only the outbreak of the first World War cutting off the flow of European Immigration, that opened up the labor market into the northern cities to Southern Blacks”(Bonner 92). African Americans, who mainly came from rural areas, had undergone a difficult task of adjusting to urban environment. Trent Alexander, from the University of Minnesota, elaborated on this task, “Requiring a total and often impossible adjustment to an urban world that was different is just about every imaginable way” (Alexander 349). There had to be other reasons that compelled about 1.5 million African American to migrate from the Deep South (Bonner 91). Although new job opportunities introduced by the First World War attracted African Americans to the North, African Americans left the south seeking freedom from racial inequalities.
The various methods in which White Southerners oppressed African Americans, gave African Americans ample reason to seek for opportunities else where. They were placed in the lowest paying and most menial jobs thus had no chance to increase their financial or social standing. St. Claire Drake, professor who taught in Stanford University, along with Horace Clayton, an American Journalist, described the status of
African Americans before the Great Migration in their book...