6.12.2011

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great MigrationThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating read about the Great Migration of millions of Black people from Jim Crow south to areas north and west during the period ranging from 1910 to 1970. Isabel Wilkerson is a wonderful story teller, and she brings history to life through the story of three people who left the south (Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana), at different time periods (1937, 1945, and 1953) for different destinations (Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles), and for different reasons (to get out from under sharecropping, to avoid being killed, and the hope of better opportunities).

I really grew to care for these three, and couldn't help but wish my grandparents were still alive so I could ask what prompted them to leave the Louisiana/Texas area and wind up in the Midwest.

The personal experiences of these people in the south were heartbreaking, disheartening, and sometimes made me feel sick to my stomach. Their resolve to get out of their respective situations to try to find something better for themselves is absolutely inspiring. It was also interesting to read about how their final destinations weren't necessarily the places of freedom they were expecting. They still experienced racism in Chicago, NYC, and L.A., it was just different.

This is an enjoyable and educational read. It's an important book that I'd recommend to everyone.

Next up is The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  I figured it's a good time to read this since 1) the movie's coming out soon, and 2), I just read the truthful account of Jim Crow Mississippi which will help put this fictionalized account into perspective.

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