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Book Review: Moving North

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

Also in This Series

Cultures Collide
New Beginnings
Independence Now
Freedom Struggle
Railroad Fever
Bright Ideas
Created Equal
Speaking Out

Part of National Geographic's new Crossroads America series, Moving North captures the struggles and successes of the African-American migration to Northern cities in the early 20th Century. The author, Monica Halpern, appears elsewhere in this series, writing Railroad Fever. Her familiarity with the series shows.

The book does a good job of explaining why all wasn't rosy for African-Americans even though slavery had been abolished. Traditions and prejudices die hard, especially if they have had generations to fester and grow.

Halpern clues the reader in to the idea that the promise of the Promised Land wasn't exactly rosy for all African-Americans, not the least because they were fighting for jobs with one another and with more experienced Northern workers.

One especially nice touch is the inclufion of the Chicago Urban League's Self-help list, a six-tip set of instructions for African-Americans who wanted to prove themselves and find rewarding work. And last but certainly not least is the discussion of the Harlem Renaissance, one of this country's most elegant and progressive cultural movements ever.

Yes, times were hard all over. Yes, African-Americans migrated north in large numbers, in hopes of finding a better life in a society where they were not treated differently just because they looked different. That was not always the case in the North, either, as the book makes clear.

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