Tuskegee Airmen and the Great Western Migration, 1940-1970 Exhibit

Tuskegee Airmen and the Great Western Migration, 1940-1970 Exhibit
February 1 – 28, 2018
Geisel Library, main floor, west wing

A group of Tuskegee Airmen in uniform standing in front of a military plan

In honor of Black History Month, the UC San Diego Library is hosting the Tuskegee Airmen and the Great Western Migration, 1940-1970 Exhibit.  The story of the Tuskegee Airmen who settled in the western United States often gets lost in the telling of the larger Tuskegee Airmen narrative. The western migration is one of the most pivotal moments in African American history as people sought out better economic opportunities and an escape from racialized violence in the south.

African Americans left the southern United States in record numbers during the Second Great Migration, a period spanning over thirty years between World War II through the emergence of the Black Power Movement in the late 1960s to the early 1970s.  An estimated five million African Americans left the south between the early 1940s to the late 1970s.  This massive movement of African Americans is estimated to have been more than twice the size of the first Great Migration that occurred during the early 20th Century through World War I. It reshaped the social, political, cultural, and economic future of not only African Americans, but also the United States

The Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators in the US Military, were an important part of this migration story.  Their western migration was similar to many other African American service members who left the south in significant numbers after their military service during the three decades.  They moved west for economic opportunities in the growing defense industry, military bases, and other industries that had recently opened up opportunities for African Americans.  They also moved west seeking an escape from the brutality of southern racism.

The exhibit will cover three main time periods from 1940-1970:

  • World War II
  • The Western Migration of African Americans
  • The Emergence of the Black Middle Class in the Western United States

This traveling exhibit is on loan from the UC Riverside Library. The Special Collections & Archives houses the notable Tuskegee Airmen Collections.

To learn more, check out the following resources from the UC San Diego Library’s collections:

Books:

Films:

 

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