“Toledo’s Great Migrations: Two or Three?” BGSU’s own Dr. Nicole Jackson, Associate Professor of History, posed this question to a diverse audience at Way Public Library in Perrysburg on Wednesday evening, June 27.
The usual story identifies Toledo as part of two great migrations: Migration #1 was the movement of former slaves away from their masters’ homes after the Civil War; Migration #2 was the movement of rural African Americans to urban areas in the north and west between the 1940s and 1970s. Dr. Jackson suggested an additional Migration for Toledo: the movement of fugitive slaves from slave-holding states to Ohio, other northern states and Canada. In this alternate Migration #1, Toledo played a major role, both by creating incipient black communities and by extending the pathway from slavery to freedom for those fleeing bondage in slave-holding states. Black communities established in the Toledo area during the first two migrations attracted those who came in the third migration. Dr. Jackson’s presentation on this aspect of local history drew lively questions and discussion from the audience and provided an excellent example of the way scholars can connect the university and the public.