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Up From the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream

“Up From the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream” tells the story of the massive migration of African Americans from the rural south to the prosperous north during the World War II years and beyond  They left behind the legacy of slavery and segregation and set out to find the american dream. The voice of Cicely Tyson guides us through these touching, thoughtful and often funny stories as told by fifteen residents of Muskegon, Michigan. During the late 1930’s through the 1960’s, factory jobs in the north were abundant while farming jobs in the south were disappearing. It started as a trickle but once word got back to families in the south, it turned into a flood of people uprooting their lives and moving to the land of prosperity, the industrial north.

The producers, Jim & Rod Schaub of Clear Vision Films set out to capture this local story but soon learned that it is just one example of a larger story that happenned all across our country.  It touches on the vast differences in culture between the north and south and delves into the racial tensions these new imigrants encountered – settling in an area where very few African Americans had lived. The struggles these courageous immigrants went through were numerous but so were the opportunities for starting a new life away from the racist, segregated south. The workers made more money than they ever thought possible. They eventually bought or built homes, raised families and began to see a chance at capturing the American Dream.


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