I’ve got another one of those You gotta try this books.
Make no mistake: I’ve had The Warmth of Other Suns on my Goodreads to-read list for over a year now. Numerous friends who are also passionate about issues of racial justice and reconciliation kept banging me over the head with the fact that I hadn’t read it yet. But I kept putting it off, mostly because of its gargantuan length.
Friends, don’t make the same mistake I did: start reading The Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson) now.
For those of us who live in the United States, and especially for those of us whose white skin has given us the advantage of not having to engage with or seek to understand a critical part of our nation’s history, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson provides us with the stories and answers we didn’t know we needed to hear.
Did you know that more than six million African Americans migrated from the South to other parts of the U.S. between 1910 and 1970?
Did you know that blacks sought to escape the unfair and unjust laws of the Jim Crow South, only to encounter further discrimination in northern and western cities?
And did you know that the story is far from over yet, even though we’ve had our first black President and passed Civil Rights laws and live in the 21st century now?
The truth is that I lived under the umbrella of ignorance for far too long, but now that I’ve begun to drink of the real stories of our country’s history, I can’t stop.
So, I beg you to take a nice, long, sometimes hard-to-swallow gulp of everything you’ve had the privilege of not knowing and not learning and not being changed by at this point in your life.
Because this history? It matters.
The stories of our brave flights of migration on behalf of our black brothers and sisters? They matter.
Listening and learning and being changed by the words of people who are wiser than us? It matters, it matters, it matters.
The Warmth of Other Suns follows the lives of three individuals (and their families) who left the South between 1930 – 1960 and started life anew in cities across the United States. You’ll find yourself absorbed in their worlds, enraged by the injustice present then (and its haunting parallels now), and, if you’re anything like me, prompted to action.
To knowing more and learning more and hearing more. To owning the positive and negative stories of our own family histories. And to getting proximate to issues of injustice today.
So, head to the library, to your favorite local bookstore or to your online bookseller of choice, and pick up a copy ASAP.
I can’t wait to hear what you think, too.
So, The Warmth of Other Suns: have you read it? Were you changed? What did you love or hate about Wilkerson’s words? Also, you may have noticed that I completely dropped the ball on Beloved – look for a review. Eventually.
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