Displaced Persons and the Great Migration of African Americans

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The Great Flood of 1927
Click on the link for video of flood footage: http://www.archive.org/details/mississippi_flood_1927

Displaced Persons and the Great Migration of African Americans

During the flood, 600,000 people were left homeless including 300,000 African Americans. The 1927 Mississippi flood brought about what is referred to as the Great Migration of African Americans. Although there were more jobs and better pay in northern cities like Chicago, migration north was slowed prior to the flood because workers were needed on cotton plantations. After the flood, there was little work due to the destruction of the farms, and plantation owners reduced their wages considerably, but labor was needed for recovery and many plantation owners tried to forcibly prevent their workers from traveling North. In spite of their efforts, tens of thousands of African Americans were successful in their migration efforts and many ended up in Chicago where factory jobs were abundant.

Herbert Hoover's Damaged Political Career

Herbert Hoover was Secretary of Commerce at the time of the flood and his actions helped him win his campaign for President of the United States. However, as the country tried to recover from the flood, Hoover made promises to the African American communities concerning the refugee camps. He later broke his promises, and this is believed to have cost him his bid for re-election.

Legacy of the 1927 Mississippi Flood

The 1928 Flood Control Act was passed due to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and levee maintenance is now controlled by the Army Corp of Engineers. In 1948, William Faulkner wrote his famous novella Old Man about a convict who is caught in the flood and rescues a pregnant woman. In 1997, Faulkner’s story was made into a television movie, William Faulkner’s Old Man starring Jeanne Tripplehorn and Arliss Howard. Blues performers Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie wrote the song "When the Levee Breaks" about the flood, and the song was revised by the rock band Led Zeppelin and included in their fourth album. In 1974, Randy Newman also wrote and released the song “Louisiana 1927” about the 1927 flood.


  • Ambrose, Stephen. "Great Flood." National Geographic News Online. Published May 1, 2001. Retrieved January 23, 2010.

  • "Fatal Flood." American Experience. PBS Home Programs. Retrieved January 23, 2010.

  • Trotter, Paul S. et al. "Floods on the Lower Mississippi: An Historical Economic Overview." NOAA.Gov. Retrieved January 23, 2010.

Read more at Suite101: The Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927: The Most Destructive Flood in the History of the United States | Suite101.com http://www.suite101.com/content/the-great-mississippi-river-flood-of-1927-a198648#ixzz1M9OXBPjV

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