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Monday, January 7, 2013

African American Migration: Dad Chose Connecticut

"Out of ALL of the places in the world, Daddy, why did you choose, Connecticut?", a sibling asked teasingly, this past summer. It was after the Montford Point Marines Congressional Medal of Honor Ceremony and we were back at my parents' house in Windsor, CT.  Many African Americans had left the South in droves during the Great Depression for better job opportunities and less racism. The North and Midwest represented the Promised Land, an exciting frontier.  Blacks headed to large Metropolitan areas such as New York City and Newark from Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina. If you hailed from Tennessee, like my mom, there was a good chance you had relatives that migrated to Chicago or Detroit.

Note the preponderance of British Names, as CT was a former British Colony.
CT is one of seven states that comprise New England.

California also had a lot of Negroes, as they were called back then, that moved west from Lousianna, Misssissippi, and Arkansas. In the autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by America's former Poet Laureate and noted author Maya Angelou, she poignantly describes her interesting experiences in Oakland /San Francisco, CA and being hired as the first African American female streetcar conductor. Additionally,  Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Gary, IN, (Think Jackson 5) were all cities that also received an exodus of Blacks from Jim Crow South.


But young Clifford Primus, at age 17 with four dollars in his pocket, and his best friend Columbus, took the bus to up north from Daytona Beach, Florida. Columbus possessed about 35 dollars, because my dad stated his father "had money". He said everyone was going to New York City. He simply looked at a map and chose Connecticut, "The Constitution State." Connecticut played a pivotal role in forming the federal government. Its Native American Alogonquin name means " Upon the long river."

Clifford knew absolutely no one in the state.
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