Centering around a 60-panel series of paintings by Jacob Lawrence, this show deals with a chapter of the nation’s history unfamiliar to a lot of people, especially whites: the story of 5 to 6 million African-Americans fleeing the Jim Crow South for the cities of the Northeast, the Midwest and the West Coast between 1910 and 1970. African-Americans left their homes to escape poverty, segregation, harassment, an unfair legal system and the violence routinely perpetrated upon them by their white neighbors. Lawrence was among the first to grasp the import of the Great Migration, which he set out to immortalize in his paintings. Besides Lawrence, MoMA includes other artists such as Charles White, Romare Bearden and Gordon Parks, as well as posters and books. It’s all part of a fascinating look not just at race but at how people chase the American Dream, even with the odds stacked against them.
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