Artwork Details

Jacob Lawrence
American

1917–2000

The 1920's...The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots
1974
Medium
Screenprint on Domestic Etching paper
Dimensions
32 x 24 1/4 inches
Location
Not on view
Accession Number
1976.6.8
Credit
Gift of Lorillard, New York, NY
Image Copyright
© Jacob Lawrence

About the Artwork

Hundreds of thousands of African Americans migrated to northern states in the early decades of the 20th century. The north offered more economic security as well as an escape from the harsh, segregationist Jim Crow laws of the American south. Painter and printmaker Jacob Lawrence’s work often illustrated moments from this great migration. 

Among the many advantages the migrants found in the north was the freedom to vote. In my print, migrants are represented exercising that freedom,” he said of this piece. In this relaxed scene, most likely in Harlem, voters chat or read while awaiting their turn. The voters represent a cross-section of the community – some people are dressed in work clothes and others suits, there are young people, elderly people, couples, and mothers with their children.