Black History Month: Seeking Better Lives in Buffalo
From 1915 onward, large numbers of African-Americans left agriculture areas in the South to seek better paying jobs in the industrial cities of the North. The industrial boom stimulated by World War 1 and the steel plant in Lackawanna drew African-Americans to Western New York in large numbers. Buffalo’s African-American population grew 765 percent between 1910 and 1930 from 1,773 to 13,563. By 1960 it had grown another 523 percent to 70,904. Like all American citizens, African Americans were looking to better their lives in the North.
The steel plant in Lackawanna imported experienced black steelworkers from Baltimore. Fifty families arrived during the fall of 1904 with 200 more expected. Opinions about racial characteristics colored the recruitment policy. It was said that black men could stand the heat of the furnaces better than white men.
Article courtesy of the Buffalo Historical Society