press release

An exhibition about the historic tide of African Americans to the North and its impact on Philadelphia's culture and industry.

Slought and Scribe Video Center are pleased to announce “A City Transformed,” an exhibition that explores the historic tide of African Americans moving North during The Great Migration, and their transformative impact on the culture and industry of Philadelphia. The exhibition, organized in conjunction with the BlackStar Film Festival, will feature two site-specific installations: Mendi + Keith Obadike’s Sonic Migration: Homes and Lonnie Graham’s Ancestral Correspondence: Looking Back at Our Future, as well as a selection of documentary films from Scribe’s “Precious Places Community History Project.”

The Great Migration was one of the largest and most rapid mass internal movements in history. The post-Reconstruction era saw a dramatic reversal of advancement through the terror tactics of the the Klu Klux Klan, as well as the development of Jim Crow laws across the South. The North and Midwest became mythologized as places of racial,socio-cultural, and economic opportunity, where one could find better jobs, safety, suffrage, and educational opportunity.

The Migration of Black Americans also gained momentum during World War I through the efforts of Northern businessmen seeking to fill the labor shortage. Philadelphia, which had the largest free Black population in the United States during the Civil War, became a new magnet for those moving North. Between the opening of the twentieth century to the onset of the Great Depression, some 1.6 million people fled the South.

This exhibition is organized in conjunction with Scribe Video Center's The Great Migration, which is supported by Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the Department of History of Art and Center for African Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Lincoln Financial Foundation and Hamilton Family Foundation.