Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Family Great Migration

So I'm reading this book that my cousin Brunette suggested called" The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson ,and I'm about 3/4 of the way through when it hits me that I'm part of that Great Migration just didn't realize it, and so were many of my family members.

Most of my family is from the south, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia.  I was born in Chattanooga, TN. in 1950.  While living there I remember several of my great aunts and uncles either getting ready to move away or talking about going up north.  Some were going to St. Louis others to Chicago or Detroit while others were going to California  and New York.

My first cousin once removed Leona, was born in Mississippi, she eventually moved to St. Louis and from there Los Angeles.  Walter my other first cousin once removed moved from Mississippi to Detroit and from there to Arizona. Walter's father Ollie is the one that moved his family to Detroit, I remember visiting them in Detroit until Uncle Ollie died, then the visits stopped.  I always wondered why we didn't still go visit the rest of the family anymore.  Aunt Sadie my grandmother's oldest sister moved to New York, that was where one of her sons lived, and  she was there for a while then moved to Chicago where her daughter was living.  Uncle Roscoe moved to Chicago as did his brother Daniel. I don't know when they moved but I do know that when I would go back down to TN to visit sometimes they would come from Chicago to TN to see us on our visits.

My mother's brother Billy moved to Vallejo California from Chattanooga, TN.  There were also a lot of family that didn't move away but unfortunately I didn't learn about any of these people until I started working on my family tree and by that time they had all passed away.  My Grandma Lena who is my mother's mom, she moved to St. Louis, then New York then on to Los Angeles, CA. We all moved away going to New York and California, Los Angeles and Sacramento and area, and of course when we left from TN my father's mother went with us as she lives with us all my life until she died.

It's amazing how while reading this book I was starting to relate to certain events that happened to some of the people in the book, I'm like okay this happened to me, yet I suppose I was too young to realize it and after a while I just stored it away in my memory bank for later, like now.

The one thing I wish I had thought to ask my parents or grandmothers was how did we make the trip away, did we drive, take a train, bus, I have such a good memory for most of my time spent in Chattanooga but for some reason I don't remember us leaving or how we got there. The one thing I do remember is I was upset that I was having to leave my best friends behind, so that could be why I don't remember I was trying to block it out.
I must spend some time working on that memory and see if I can bring any thing up during that trip.  There isn't anyone left alive to answer this question for me either.
My cousin Brunette is another one that moved, her family moved from Mississippi to St Louis, Missouri, some went to Chicago and other even to Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit.

I must talk to my cousin and see if she knows any stories that her mom or dad might have told her about their migration north.

Sources:  " The Atlas of African-American History and Politics"


  1. You have become such a gifted story teller. This was really interesting.

  2. Thank you Bernita, It was so funny after reading that book, and it dawned on me that I was part of that whole Migration, it never occurred to me that I was part of that history. lol