New episode of Hagley History Hangout Available: Millions of black Americans left the Deep South fleeing violence and seeking opportunity during the Great Migration, one of the most dramatic demographic shifts in twentieth-century American history. Some communities welcomed these newcomers with open arms, going so far as to actively recruit them as industrial labor, while others attempted to shut their doors, to maintain their homogeneity through the threat of violence against black people. These different reactions could take place in towns adjacent to one another, with locally-specific causes shaping the divergence.
Social historian Matthew O’Neal, PhD candidate at the University of Georgia, uncovers the story of two eastern-Kentucky towns that reacted differently to the Great Migration: Lynch, a U.S. Steel company town which became a relatively diverse, welcoming community, and Corbin, a railroad hub that became an infamous “sundown town,” or place unsafe for black people to live in or visit. The economic base of wither town, and the resulting social organizations within them, shaped the divergence. O’Neal notes the policies of racial inclusion or exclusion that characterized the unions attached to the steel versus the railroad industry as one source. Rising from parochial concerns, and local bigotry, a system of shadow segregation grew outside of the Deep South, and continues to shape American society in the twenty-first century.
The audio only version of this program is available on our podcast.
Interview available at https://www.hagley.org/research/history-hangout-matthew-oneal
Recorded on Zoom and available anywhere once they are released, our History Hangouts include interviews with authors of books and other researchers who have use of our collections, and members of Hagley staff with their special knowledge of what we have in our stacks. We began the History Hangouts in the summer of 2020 and now are releasing programs every two weeks on alternate Mondays. Our series is part of the Hagley from Home initiative by the Hagley Museum and Library. The schedule for upcoming episodes, as well as those already released, is available at https://www.hagley.org/hagley-history-hangout.