Spencer Crew has worked at museums as well as universities over the past twenty-five years. The Clarence J. Robinson Professor of American, African American, and Public History at George Mason University, he is the former director of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the former president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. His primary area of research interest is African American history, and he has created exhibitions and written on both the Underground Railroad and the migration of African Americans to the North during and after World War I. Crew served as interim director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2019 and 2020.
The presentation chronicles the movement of African Americans from the South to the North during and after WWI. It looks at the factors which propelled them to leave the south like the boll weevil, segregation laws and economic discrimination as well as the factors drawing them north such as new industrial jobs, better education and living conditions for themselves and their children. This was the start of the African Americans becoming more urban and more northern. It also changes the way the nation has to think about issues of race. Issue captured in view of Dubois that the issue of the 20th century would be the issue of the color line.