The First Migrants: How Black Homesteaders’ Quest for Land and Freedom Heralded America’s Great Migration
National Archives Museum
Tuesday, February 20, 2024 - 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Authors Richard Edwards and Jacob K. Friefeld will discuss the largely unknown story of Black people who migrated from the South to the Great Plains between 1877 and 1920 in search of land and freedom. They exercised their rights under the Homestead Act to gain title to 650,000 acres, settling in all of the Great Plains states. Some created Black homesteader communities such as Nicodemus, KS, and DeWitty, NE, while others, including George Washington Carver and Oscar Micheaux, homesteaded alone. All sought a place where they could rise by their own talents and toil, unencumbered by Black codes, repression, and violence. In the words of one Nicodemus descendant, they found “a place they could experience real freedom,” though in a racist society that freedom could never be complete. Their quest foreshadowed the epic movement of Black people out of the South known as the Great Migration.
Programs and the Black History Featured Document Display are made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Verizon.
All events listed in the calendar are free unless noted.