"The Negro is a gang worker. He is not a soloist. He 19 superstitious, lacks initiative, and, taken alone, is scared even of the dark. He is not a man for work requiring risk. He is strong, reliable, peaceable, American, for he came here with us and has been copying us ever since. The black man wants work at better pay. He is quite moral, very religious, and several times more an American than the other laborer with whom he has come here to enter into competition. He is a hopeful, industrial asset, not a menace, no anarchist, no plotter".
There were four classes of Negro migrants. The first was composed of the floating Negro casual laborers largely produced by the past system of economy under which they have worked and lived. The second, the majority, were the thrifty, middle-class, honest, hardworking, semiskilled, and unskilled workers who sought better wages, better conditions of labor, and better living conditions. The third class comprised a considerable number of skilled artisans such as carpenters, brick masons, and tailors. These three classes were accompanied and followed by a fourth class, a number of enterprising Negro business men, such as small retail shopkeepers, insurance agents and solicitors, and a number of professional men - doctors, lawyers, and ministers. The wives and children, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other members of families completed the number that made up nearly half a million or so migrants who moved North between 1915 and 1920.
The effect on the South of this wholesale movement of Negroes was widespread. A shortage of labor both in agriculture and industry was created. Wages were increased to unprecedented levels. Treatment of the workers and plantation tenants improved. City councils, chambers of commerce, and business men's organizations, county officials, and even state officials and legislatures took steps to meet the situation. Some repressive measures were attempted to stop the movement in different places, but, for the most part, the migrants moved as they were inclined.1 Humanitarian, religious, and economic motives began to run in the same direction. Social agencies found the business interests now actively concerned in plans for better schools, better housing, more nearly even-handed justice in the courts, and other improvements.
The effect in the North was also far-reaching. For example, the Negro population of Chicago more than doubled, increasing 148 per cent between 1910 and 1920; that of Detroit increased from about 6,000 to more than 30,000 in four years, that of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York increased from 50 to 70 per cent. Smaller cities and towns increased in similar proportion. In six or eight of the basic industries in some of the Northern industrial cities, Negroes filled the gap in semiskilled and unskilled labor. A partial investigation of the Department of Labor in 1919-20, the only data of its kind available, showed 4,260 white men and 2,222 Negro men engaged in 194 occupations in 23 establishments of the six basic industries; namely, foundries, slaughtering and meat-packing, automobiles, iron and steel and their products, and glass manufacturing. In the slaughtering and meat-packing plants of Chicago, where one Negro was employed in 1915, from four to five were employed in 1919-20. The foundries and hardware factories of Cleveland, Youngstown, and other Ohio centers either increased their Negro workers or employed Negroes for the first time. The steel mills in and around Pittsburgh rivaled in complexion those of Birmingham, Ala. In the six basic industries where Negroes were employed in considerable numbers, comparison with white workmen in the same establishments indicated that black men made a good record as to labor turnover, absenteeism, and quantity and quality of work done. It is no exaggeration to say that during the war the industrial plants that employed Negro workers for the first time were well pleased. These workers proved themselves adaptable, teachable, and able to get along in a very cooperative way with white fellow-workmen both North and South. Negro women entered the clothing factories of New York by the hundreds. These are only some of the changed conditions that arose.
1Donald, Henderson H., work cited, pp. 425-431.
Although many Negroes migrated North during the World War, yet the large majority are still in the South, and since the majority are engaged in agriculture, their farm operations are of prime importance in considering the changed conditions in race relations. In 1920 over 920,000 more farms were operated by Negroes than in 1860, and more than one third of them were owned in whole or in part by Negroes. In a single decade, 1900-1910, the number of Negro farm owners increased about 17 per cent. About three out of every four Negro farm operators in 1910 were tenants on rented land. The fourth operator was an owner or a part owner. Negro farm operators increased between 1900 and 1910 about 19.6 per cent, while the rate of increase of Negro population was 11.2 per cent. There was a slight decrease between 1910 and 1920 in the number of owners, doubtless due to migration and other changes during the War. There was, however, an increase of 3.1 per cent in Negro farm operators for the decade. White farm operators during the period 1900-1910 increased only 9.5 per cent in comparison with the increase of the white population of 22.3 per cent, and there was also a slight decrease in the number of white farm owners. For both races there was a marked increase of managing operators of farms. Negroes in 1920 owned a farm area about the size of New England, omitting Maine.1 The average value of Negro farms increased from $669 in 1900 to $1,278 in 1910 or about 91 per cent.2
1 Stokes, Anson Phelps, Southern Workman, March, 1922, pp. 114-116.
2 These figures were furnished by Charles E. Hall, U. S. Census Bureau.