Where did African Americans go after Reconstruction?

While many African Americans moved from one part of the South to another, those who wanted their own land went West where they were often welcomed by Native American tribes because of their knowledge of English.

Hundreds of blacks moved into the Southwest, an easy change for those who had lived among horses all their lives. Within ten years, 100,000 African Americans had migrated to Texas.

The largest movement of blacks from the South after Reconstruction was the exodus to the Middle West in August 1879. Earlier that year, Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, a former slave from Tennessee, had distributed flyers describing the opportunities in “Sunny Kansas.” He gave them to train porters and steamboat workers to pass along.

As a result, hundreds of exodusters packed their belongings in bags, bundles, and red bandannas and headed to Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska. In Oklahoma, the all-black towns of Boley, Langston, and Summit were formed. Black Buffalo Soldiers fought Native Americans to open up much of the Southwest for white settlement. Many African Americans also moved to cities.

Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, a former slave, encouraged blacks to migrate westward. He led several groups from Tennessee and Kentucky into Kansas where they established all-black towns.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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