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The Great Migration

Chicago, IL | 1995

Commissioned by the Chicago Public Arts Group, EDYC and others, THE GREAT MIGRATION was created in tandem with the BBC's documentary on the Great Migration and a traveling exhibit put together by the Chicago Historical Society called "From Field to Factory". After doing much historical research, Akinlana designed this 2700 sq ft acrylic mural. It covers the largest wall of the Art Park at the Elliott Donnelley Youth Center.


Akinlana drew thematic inspiration from the historical narrative of the mass migrations of African Americans from the southern United States to Chicago. Despite segregation, the Great Migration was an exciting time. As Black people traveled from the Deep South to the North, so did their music, food, and culture -- the unique and persevering culture that traces back to our African roots. The Grand Douglas Boulevard Community served as a specific source of inspiration for this piece, which celebrates the perseverance and triumph of Black culture. The mural portrays the historical "Bronzeville," as this area was referred to in the 1920s and 1930s, when it was a thriving part of the Black community.

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