This book is an accompaniment to the upcoming exhibition Pittsburgh and the Great Migration: Black Mobility and the Automobile in the Car and Carriage Museum at The Frick Pittsburgh May 6th - February 4th, 2024. This exhibition examines the harrowing history of the Great Migration and the role the car played in the growth of Black mobility and autonomy.
During the Great Migration of 1916-1940, over two million African Americans left the American South seeking a greater quality of life, with the Steel City a major destination. Men and women packed up what they could fit in a suitcase or the trunk of a car and left behind their homes and families in search of better opportunities in the budding industries of the North and Midwest. They were escaping discriminatory laws and racial violence. Purchasing a car was one of the first things African Americans did as they moved into the middle class, providing a sense of freedom and autonomy unexperienced before. This mobility and the freedom to come and go as one pleases revolutionized the Black middle class in Pittsburgh and played a pivotal role in the Great Migration's effects upon the region.