Olivia Nengel | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Olivia Nengel head shot

Name: Olivia Nengel
Title: The Social and Economic Impact of the Great Migration on Akron, Ohio
Major: History
Minor: Spanish
Advisors: Beatrice Adams; Ibra Sene (second reader)

The Great Migration was the mass movement of over six million African Americans who left the South and resettled in cities across the North, West, and Midwest. This thesis focuses on the Great Migration in the context of Akron, Ohio. These migrants were pushed out of the South and pulled to cities for a variety of reason. The push factors included Jim Crow laws, chronic racial segregation and violence, and bleak economic opportunities. Pull factors were more location-specific but included economic opportunities and less racial violence. In the case of Akron, African American migrants were attracted to the city to work in the rubber industry. This I.S. seeks to answer the question of how did the African American migrants during the Great Migration economically and socially impact Akron, Ohio? Profound changes and developments economically and socially occurred due to the influx of the Black population brought to Akron by the Great Migration. Among the economic developments are the creation of an independent and separate Black commercial economy and the constant supply of labor for the booming rubber industry. Socially the changes included a strong Black community with ties to social clubs and churches.
I was drawn to the profound impact the Great Migration had on the racial layout of the U.S. and how the history of the Great Migration centers entirely on the people who lived it. I enjoyed bringing Akron into discussions of the Great Migration and revealing the nation-within-a-nation that formed in the city due to the Great Migration.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on April 22, 2024.