Making a Way Out of No Way (1897-1940). Full Episode

The Jim Crow Era and The Great Migration

During the Jim Crow era, African Americans struggled to build their own worlds within the harsh, narrow confines of segregation. At the turn of the 20th century, a steady stream of African Americans migrated away from the South, fleeing racial violence and searching for better opportunities in the North and the West in what’s known as the Great Migration. At the same time, there was an ascendance of black arts and culture, such as The Harlem Renaissance.

Making a Way Out of No Way is episode four of  the six-part series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,  and premiered on PBS on November 12, 2013, 8-9 pm ET.  For the next two episodes, check local listings on the broadcast schedule.

Production Credits | Available until 2/28/2014 | Restricted to U.S. & Territories
  • Clarence McCall

    This episode led me into a 2 day intensive on Tulsa. I’m so proud of, and impressed with that generation and there are so many lessons to take away from Tulsa, not only regarding the riot, or should I say war, that took place there, but more specifically from the community that black people built. Tulsa is probably the best example of what we are capable of if we practiced group economics and created a private sector for ourselves. Building businesses and creating opportunity for one another is what a community is supposed to do but black people are so heavily discouraged from doing that. There are forces in this country who are violently opposed to seeing blacks thrive economically and independently, but at the same time, those forces complain about our dependent and entitlement mentality. Black people must get back to some form of group economics even if it frustrates folks who hate us. According to Dr. Claud Andersen, while speaking at an event in 2000, he stated that the dollar does not bounce once in the black community. However, according to Charles J. Ogletree, seen in this video, he stated that the dollar bounced 26 times in Tulsa. That is an amazing feat when you consider today that the dollar bounces 18 times in the Jewish community and 6 times in the Spanish community. This has a dramatic effect on employment. If black people pooled their resources, created and supported each others businesses then we could create jobs and opportunity within our communities. We must get back to this kind of thinking. Mass integration and chronic individualism is killing us collectively. I think as a matter of convenience we have forgotten that group economics was a part of the debate during the Civil Rights era. Why do we treat it today like it’s off the table when clearly and mathematically it is a solution to many of our economic frustrations?

  • Ryanmsides

    I experienced some of the frustrations as Clarence after having been inspired by this particular episode of #ManyRivers. The evidence of our potential became such a glaring wake up call in comparison to what it is that we’re actually living through right now. I don’t want to get exhaustive here as it’s a comments column and not a forum, however I’ve been writing a weekly comparison piece for #ManyRivers hosted on and for the detailed version of my view on this and the other episodes you can see them here —>

© 2013 WNET. All rights reserved.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is a film by Kunhardt McGee Productions, THIRTEEN Productions LLC, Inkwell Films, in assocation with Ark Media.