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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
by Isabel Wilkerson
Available formats: Print and Overdrive e-book
Wilkerson tells the true story of six million African Americans who courageously left, or escaped, the Jim Crow South to live in Northern or Western parts of the U.S. This well researched book is the history of how many of these individuals thrived in the North despite institutionalized barriers that perpetuated widespread racism and resulted in overcrowded impoverished urban dwellings. This story is also the narrative of three such migrants and their detailed life histories. Ida Mae and her husband fled the South in the 1930s and settled into a Chicago home where they balanced blue collar work, family, religion, and time for Southern cooking and hospitality. George escaped the South in the 1940s and did his best to establish a home in Harlem with his family, but his work with the railroad required treacherous routine travel back to the South. Robert journeyed out of the South in the 1950s and built his new life in Los Angeles as a family man, respected surgeon, and a hopeless gambler. As Ida Mae, George, and Robert recount their unique stories of life during the Great Migration, an underlying shared experience surfaces. These life histories are embedded in our nation's larger collective history of racism in America. Although Wilkerson wrote and published this epic story before our nation's current and monumental Black Lives Matter Movement, readers may gain insights into how the past informs and shapes America today and the directions our nation follows into the future. The Warmth of Other Suns reads like fiction (a comprehensive, but page-turning book), but Wilkerson creatively draws her readers back to the unwavering and disturbing reality of America and racism.