CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - According to the US Census Bureau, the Great Migration generally refers to the massive internal migration of Blacks from the South to urban centers in other parts of the country. Between 1910 and 1970, an estimated 6 million Blacks left the South. There was an early migration from 1910-1940, sometimes referred to as the First Great Migration, and the later between 1940-1970, known as the Second Great Migration.
Edith Martin Williams-Oldham remembers that time very well. The St. George native now lives in Summerville, and wrote a book about some of the brave men who fulfilled a need to transport people from the South to the North, for better jobs and to escape the brutally unfair treatment of African-Americans down south.
She refers to them as the Road Warriors in her book, What Grandma Forgot To Tell You. It’s a collection of stories of growing up in the Jim Crow South in rural Dorchester County.
“Some were not literate, and they traveled by remembering landmarks, the lay of the land. And they would take you from St. George to New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.”
Williams-Oldham shared her experiences as part of a tribute to Black History Month. You can catch the full interview below.
They could be considered the predecessors to ride-sharing services. They charged a fee, but also accepted credit, allowing people to pay for the gas and their time in installments.
Traveling long distances was a novel experience for many Blacks. Some didn’t have a suitcase, and would have to borrow luggage from relatives or neighbors. And the Road Warriors played an important role in that exchange.
“They would borrow a suitcase and the Road Warriors would return that suitcase on the return trip to St. George,” Williams-Oldham said.
In honor of Black History Month, Live 5 is hosting a series of virtual conversations to highlight the struggles, contributions and significant events inspired by African Americans that have shaped America and the Lowcountry.
The interviews will stream on the Live 5 Facebook page and website Tuesday and Thursday nights at 10 p.m. during the month of February, and will be hosted by longtime Live 5 News anchor Raphael James. Viewers with the Live 5 app may also watch the conversations on Amazon, Apple, and Roku TV.