Way Up North in Louisville

African American Migration in the Urban South, 1930-1970

By Luther Adams

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 13 halftones, 3 maps, 7 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1894-4
    Published: August 2014
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-9943-4
    Published: November 2010
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8373-5
    Published: November 2010

John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture

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Luther Adams demonstrates that in the wake of World War II, when roughly half the black population left the South seeking greater opportunity and freedom in the North and West, the same desire often anchored African Americans to the South. Way Up North in Louisville explores the forces that led blacks to move to urban centers in the South to make their homes. Adams defines "home" as a commitment to life in the South that fueled the emergence of a more cohesive sense of urban community and enabled southern blacks to maintain their ties to the South as a place of personal identity, family, and community. This commitment to the South energized the rise of a more militant movement for full citizenship rights and respect for the humanity of black people.

Way Up North in Louisville offers a powerful reinterpretation of the modern civil rights movement and of the transformations in black urban life within the interrelated contexts of migration, work, and urban renewal, which spurred the fight against residential segregation and economic inequality. While acknowledging the destructive downside of emerging postindustrialism for African Americans in the Jim Crow South, Adams concludes that persistent patterns of economic and racial inequality did not rob black people of their capacity to act in their own interests.

About the Author

Luther Adams is associate professor at the University of Washington Tacoma.
For more information about Luther Adams, visit the Author Page.


“A well-told story and a fine example of historiographic method. Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.” --Choice

"The book is a concise but solid contribution to the growing field of urban studies and scholarship on the black freedom struggle. The volume will appeal to readers interested in the complexity of black migration to the urban South and the effectiveness of the fight for racial equality in Kentucky."--Journal of American History

“An important addition to the literature on African American migration.”--Journal of NC Association of Historians

“Way Up North in Louisville is well written and well documented and offers a compelling account of African Americans in Louisville...I enthusiastically recommend this study for those interested in learning more about urban, southern, or African American history in the 20th century.”--Journal of African American History

“A valuable study of the postwar, African American South.”--Indiana Magazine of History

“A compelling narrative. . . Adams’s work deserves much praise.”--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society