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The Great Migration was a mass exodus of black citizens from the South to the North and the West. It began in the second decade of the twentieth century and continued through the 1950s, setting the stage for profound changes in American society. Those who moved west were a minority of the overall migration, but in their adopted communities, they established precedents for black political involvement, education, employment, housing, and culture. The phenomenon of western black migration was most pronounced in California's major urban centers, Los Angeles and the San Francisco–East Bay Area.

What prompted so many black citizens to move from the South during the first half of the twentieth century? Some historians have tried to correlate African American outmigration with increased lynching activity at ...

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