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Years of segregation, poverty and the collapse of the Southern Agricultural complex at the hands of industrialization and failed government policies contributed to the mass migrations of African-Americans, first to cities in Northern states and then West during the post-war years.
Although in 1910 there where only 7,599 black Americans living in Los Angeles, it posed as having the largest black population of any urban center of the West due in part to the construction of the Transcontinental and Southern Pacific railroads.
Migrants like Bridget "Biddy" Mason were among those to come to Los Angeles. Upon her arrival in 1866 Biddy purchased a house on Spring Street for $250 that she later sold part of for $1,500, becoming one to the most successful Black Entrepreneurs in the region. Hundreds of black Texans also migrated to the area, and large familial networks, such as the family of Navallete Tabor Bailey in Venice - who was interviewed before her death - encouraged further emigration.
World War II initiated the largest migration of African Americans in the region's history. During the 1940's, the West's black population increased by 443,000 (33 percent) mainly in part to the military industrial complex that transformed the demographic constitution of western cities specifically Los Angeles and Oakland. For thousands of skilled black men and women, work in the defense industry changed the quality of their lives, and brought them closer to the middle-class 'dream' and the hope of a post-racial America.
Although many African-American westerners saw their lives being improved by the civil rights and Black Power movements, the 1965 Watts Uprising crushed the region's potential for reinvention. Financial, housing and educational inequality took over the inner city and further opened the door to gang violence in Compton.