East Chicago Public Library Puts Spotlight on the Impact of Great Black Migration on the City

The Divine Senior Praise Dancers from First Baptist Church performed a colorful show for the audience. (Sue Ellen Ross / Post-Tribune)

The usual quiet atmosphere at the East Chicago Public Library recently went by the wayside when more than 200 people arrived for “The Great Black Migration into East Chicago, Indiana” program.

The evening honored Black History Month and included a detailed discussion of East Chicago’s early beginnings, entertainment and an original soul-food dinner.

“Many black families started here in East Chicago,” said Adreinne Askew, as she started the program with a historical prospective. “Now we have their remnants here.”

The Great Black Migration was a movement of mammoth proportions, involving approximately 6 million African Americans, from the south to the Northeast, Midwest and West from 1915 through 1960.

Many migrants moved to major cities like Chicago, as well as their surrounding communities, such as East Chicago.

The steel mills and other businesses in this area welcomed families looking for a brighter future.

“Those migrants pushed through for better lives for themselves and their families,” Askew added. “We need to keep working on our stories for generations to come.”

First on the evening’s agenda were ladies from East Chicago’s First Baptist Church.

They performed the Divine Senior Praise Dance to rave reviews, as they used colorful scarves and unique moves to entertain.

Next up was longtime East Chicago resident Orlando Johnson, reciting poetry about his childhood on Vernon Street in the Calumet section of East Chicago.

His act outlined his family’s early history, as well as that of his hometown.

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Source: Chicago Tribune