The Autumn Garden dramaturgy: Mississippi

Table of Contents

Mississippi –

By 1910, a majority of black farmers in the Delta had lost their land and were sharecroppers. By 1920, the third generation after freedom, most African Americans in Mississippi were landless laborers again facing poverty.[14] Starting about 1913, tens of thousands of African Americans left Mississippi to migrate North in the Great Migration to industrial cities such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and St. Louis, seeking jobs, better education for their children, the right to vote, and better living. In the migration of 1910-1940, they left a society that had been steadily closing off opportunity. Most migrants from Mississippi took trains directly north to Chicago and often settled near former neighbors.

The Second Great Migration (African American) from the South started in the 1940s, lasting until 1970. Almost half a million people left Mississippi in the second migration, three-quarters of them black. Nationwide during the first half of the 20th century, African Americans became rapidly urbanized and many worked in industrial jobs.

Mississippi generated rich, quintessentially American music traditions: gospel music, country music, jazz, blues, and rock and roll. All were invented, promulgated, or heavily developed by Mississippi musicians, and most came from the Mississippi Delta. Many musicians carried their music north to Chicago, where they made it the heart of that city’s jazz and blues.

The state’s complex history has generated great storytellers. Mississippi is noted for award-winning twentieth-century authors native to or associated with the state, including Nobel Prize-winner William Faulkner, playwrights Tennessee Williams and Beth Henley, authors Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, Ellen Douglas, Walker Percy, Willie Morris, Margaret Walker, Ellen Gilchrist, and Alice Walker, and historian Shelby Foote.

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