We can’t believe there is no classic Great Migration movie. We love the Grapes of Wrath, but there should be a Black Great Migration movie. So we are asking our readers to create their own movie script. Here is ours.
Update: It’s to big for a movie. So, now its a six-part mini-series.
Here is My Story
The story is told historically like saving Private Ryan, with a matriarch who stayed in the South looking back. Or in the 2000’s a matriarch to who moved north then relocated down South.
Premise: “Did I do the right thing by staying in the South?” or “Did I do the right thing by moving North?” At this point, I have three families: the Wrights (who stayed. implied following the rules), the Rock family and the Freedmen. All who have multiple people who left.
Six Wright kids from Vicksburg, MS grew up in deprivation during the Depressions of the (1900s/ 1930s) as sharecroppers. Boll Weevil, crop failure, Depression, and racial hostility. Four boys and two girls. All are different and we get to know them and the family dynamics. There is competition and animosity among the kids, but also love.
The Freemen familty are the hustlers and swindlers, but the brother of the mother/father works for the Pennsylvania railroad.
And the Rock family is religious. With a bad egg and three beautiful daughters. good and evil. One becomes a school teacher but not the good one. In California. Third on passes for White and disappears. She re-emerges at the wedding/reunion.
they all attend the same church. Same businesses. Same bars and clubs.
The Wright father is soft, short, and intelligent. He works in the family fields. People ask for his opinion; especially when dealing with White people. He has a trade: Ironwork and machines. He is also semi-literate and fumbles with the Chicago Defender which he read to his kids. “A man was lynched yesterday. He loves baseball and used to play, but work has called. He is bullied by Whites and Blacks but is still part of the community. Mom is big, hard, and religious (trying to switch up gender stereotypes, but it may not work, it is too distracting) They have a farm and a mule, a cow and a horse. Plus chickens, shit, everyone had a chicken coop back then. A garden where the women worked. And an iron scrap pile from the job where the father invents contraptions (Jo Anderson) to make him rich. And two guns, a .22 for squirrels and groundhogs, and a revolver. The railroad runs by in the distance (train whistle).
Trains and train effects play a huge role in the background and scene transition. But also buses, jolipies and hitchhiking and other great migration photos. or Jacob Lawrence’s art.
The stars are two men and one woman who leave; one to the west, mid-west and one east. Each has an episode for character development. Insert “called boy” incident. The fourth son is murdered helping his siblings leave (getting on the train. He is left behind and whipped), so there is a moral debt and some action.
Action and background scenes
Insert lots of old-time steam engines
segregated train car stuff with fried chicken, sandwiches, and abuse.
Segregated bus stuff
Hoboing and hopping a freight
Wrights have a motor car and suffer abuse. Green book stuff.
Hint of the civil rights movement
Add red summer of 1919 in here somewhere
The male going west hopped freights, hitchhiked and slept in ditches. White people in a car on the open road try to run him down. White and Mexican hobos share a meal of beans with him. Railroad police beat him up. He bonds with other people from New Orleans and learns about Madi Gras. Scene: Make shift mardi gras in LA.
They all move north. The girl goes to NY; and the other son, to the mid-west auto industry. He is given the worst job: the paint factory. The usually hardship ensues. Housing, debt to gamblers, menial jobs, prostitution, discrimination, run-ins with White immigrants (German and Italian), and daily slights. Then finally some small success, a house (did I mention Hansberry?), and kids. They struggle in the North, first fitting in, then with
employment, finally raising kids,
They send for the mom, who recounts what happened to those who did not leave and wants to return home. <Add additional drama and flashbacks here>. The remaining daughter. who went to an HBCU, did not study and pledges Delta <insert sorority life scenes for fun and stress. Maybe she hazes a member of the other family> and became the first black female cop in the town of ???. <Insert female harassment drama> and then runs for sheriff of the county. She loses badly. She goes law and order, while the old sheriff dies in office. She is elected sheriff in a vicious election with racial undertones. Her mom confronts her and they have a failing out. The other brother, who is gay but closeted, and smartest of all, is homeless, a petty thief, and on drugs. Unmentioned, possible seventh son works at a waffle house as a manager. He was never recognized by the family, but the son who died knew. As did the dad. The mom never Knew/acknowledged the son. He has a stable girlfriend and two kids
Possible closing scenes are: pick one.
Wright marries Rock. and Freedman marries Wright or Rock.
The drug addict is now a preacher. Prostitute is now a head start teacher with three kids and baby daddy drama. The last guy is an educated transit worker, poet, and Black Panther in Oakland. A rebel with three kids at Harvard. Pick your black success, feel-good stereotype.
1. The closing scene is a family reunion during the 1960s where they all bond and MLK is assassinated. Fade to Black.
2. The closing scene is the second reunion during the eighties when everyone is doing well. The passing woman shows up. Old lady cries, I remember you. 3. The closing scene is a wedding where the southern daughter who never left and is now sheriff marries a white guy who is a police officer and they go
hunting and fishing with mixed-race kids.
4. Or 2018 when Obama is elected president. The White guy claps and hugs everyone.
5. Delta step show at the picknic?
Notes, atmosphere, and things to add.
We have to add the explosion in Black arts due to the great migration.
Have to add a train whistle or bus horn at key scenes when it is time to move on.
Have to add sound effects for settling down and stability. like tractor noise or car starting or barn door or bedroom closing or washing machine or tv.
Have to figure out the interactions up north. Are they anonymous but the moviegoers know who they are and root for them to meet? or do they interact? with good and bad blood later?
Middle-class scene in the suburbs when they try to attend school in Long Island. Football hazing scene.