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Introduction

African American experiences of migration and mobility over the last 400 years have been closely tied to access to changing modes of transportation. 

Ship manifests describing human cargo, narratives of fugitives who sought freedom from slavery on foot, and the folkways of Black pilgrims seeking new job opportunities on western and northern bound trains - these artifacts all tell stories of a continent of people in motion. While the circumstances and lengths of their journeys vary, their drive to challenge injustice is constant. The stories bring to life the tension between African American struggles to claim universal freedoms and the racist animus fueling so many of the country’s dark episodes. The stories here include the African American fight for fair seating on interstate buses, African American pilots overcoming prejudice in the military, and African American drivers searching for hospitality on unfamiliar roads. 

We invite you to explore how technology, the law, and self-determination intersect in this survey of African American historical events. 

Last updated 5/20/2021