Continually neglected: Situating natural disasters in the African American experience

Jason David Rivera, De Mond Shondell Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


It is perplexing why natural disasters, as important life-altering events, are seldom viewed as a catalyst for social change in the United States in general but particularly for African Americans. This article addresses a gap in literature by proposing natural disasters as a variable to help understand the African American experience. The authors argue that the first post-Civil War migration altered the life courses for many. Subsequent to the first migration wave (the Great Migration of 1916-1930), environmental factors altered many African American lives. Natural disasters such as The Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, The 1948 Vanport Flood, and Hurricane Katrina illustrate the federal government's indifference and neglect of responsibility, which played a role in decisions to migrate. These major natural environmental disasters, when situated in historical context as a part of the social, political, geographical, and economic landscape, are vital in the understanding of the African American experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-522
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Black Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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