For Black Artists, the Great Migration Is an Unfinished Journey
by Holland Cotter
Published August 4 in The New York Times
Excerpt: Midday, midweek, in mid-90 degrees midsummer, the streets of a downtown historic district of this Southern capital are all but empty. They’re like a film set, perfect in period detail but past-use and abandoned.
A patch of sidewalk embedded with the mosaicked words “Bon-Ton Café” marks the spot of what was, a century ago, Jackson’s toniest restaurant. In the nearby King Edward Hotel, built as the Edwards Hotel in 1923 for travel swells, later a gathering spot for blues musicians, then derelict until a recent revamp, foot traffic is sparse. Across from it, trains regularly rumble into a Georgian Revival-style Union Station, but few passengers disembark or board.
Decades ago, transcontinental trains and buses leaving the old Art Deco Greyhound depot a few blocks away, did brisk business. And some of that business came from carrying Black Jacksonians northward, eastward and westward, out of a repressive and dangerous Jim Crow South, to what they hoped would be a safer and more prosperous life in cities like Chicago, Detroit, New York, Los Angeles.