The 1920s…The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots

Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000)
Date: 1974
Medium: Color serigraph on paper
Credit: Gift of the Lorillard Company
Accession Number: 1976.24.11

Jacob Lawrence was the first American artist of African descent to receive mainstream recognition in the United States. His greatest artistic and commercial success came in history and genre painting.

 Between 1915 and 1920 thousands of African Americans migrated to northern states to escape segregationist Jim Crow laws of the south and to find economic security. This scene was most likely set in Harlem. Voters representing a cross-section of the population socialize or read while they wait their turn.

 The artist wrote about this print:

 “Among the many advantages the migrants found in the north was the freedom to vote. In my print, migrants are represented exercising that freedom.” – Jacob Lawrence