Montage of a Dream Deferred Historical Context

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The Great Migration

Prior to the Civil War, most African Americans living in the United States were slaves in the South, working the plantations that formed the backbone of the Southern economy. During the first half of the twentieth century, however, several factors contributed to a significant geographic shift in the African American population that is often referred to as the Great Migration.

One major factor contributing to the Great Migration was the institution of Jim Crow laws throughout the South. These laws created segregation between the races and were often used as an excuse to exclude blacks from facilities and businesses frequented by whites. In the 1896 Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, the federal government allowed such segregation as long as facilities for whites and blacks were "separate but equal." In reality, African American citizens hardly ever received services comparable to white citizens. They were often threatened...

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