Luther Adams demonstrates that in the wake of World War II, when
roughly half the black population left the South seeking greater
opportunity and freedom in the North and West, the same desire
often anchored African Americans to the South. Way Up North in
explores the forces that led blacks to move to urban
centers in the South to make their homes. Adams defines "home" as a
commitment to life in the South that fueled the emergence of a more
cohesive sense of urban community and enabled southern blacks to
maintain their ties to the South as a place of personal identity,
family, and community. This commitment to the South energized the
rise of a more militant movement for full citizenship rights and
respect for the humanity of black people.
Way Up North in Louisville
offers a powerful
reinterpretation of the modern civil rights movement and of the
transformations in black urban life within the interrelated
contexts of migration, work, and urban renewal, which spurred the
fight against residential segregation and economic inequality.
While acknowledging the destructive downside of emerging
postindustrialism for African Americans in the Jim Crow South,
Adams concludes that persistent patterns of economic and racial
inequality did not rob black people of their capacity to act in
their own interests.