The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

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Book shines with stories of the Great Migration of Blacks to the North

 

 
A book review
By Lissa Jones

Contributing Writer

 

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Random House, 2010) is authored by Isabel Wilkerson, the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize (1994), and the first African American to win the prize for individual reporting. In this work, Wilkerson makes the story of the Great Migration, a Black movement that changed the face of the United States of America, come alive. The title, the author advises, was inspired by none other than another Black legendary great, author/poet Richard Wright: “I was leaving the South/To fling myself into the unknown/I was taking a part of the South/To transplant in alien soil/To see if it could grow differently/If it could drink of new and cool rains/Bend in strange winds/Respond to the warmth of other suns/And, perhaps, to bloom.”

Wright’s poem oozes the essence of Wilkerson’s work in this novel — Black people, many of them sharecroppers, almost all barely able to afford a ticket North, resisted anyway. Literally at risk of death they packed up everything they could carry and went North hoping for a future free of the devastation of the segregation in the Jim Crow South. Wilkerson tells this tale so vividly, and she makes it personal — she tells the story through the lives of three of the brave souls who helped change the face of this nation: Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, Robert Joseph Pershing Foster and George Swanson Starling. Continue Reading →

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