Summary: The Great Migration

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Inspired by a line in a Richard Wright poem about his own personal migration North, Isabel Wilkerson’s 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winning nonfiction novel, The Warmth of Other Suns, focuses on three individual experiences as well as other accounts from 1915 to 1970 - the period known as the “Great Migration.” Taking place over the course of three different decades, Ida Mae Gladney, George Swanson Starling, and Robert Pershing Foster never encountered each other during their journeys. Each came from different parts of the Jim Crow South and individually journeyed to three different areas of the Northern United States. The Great Migration was the expedition of almost six million Southern blacks entering the “promised land” of Northern urban life. Although…show more content…
While we know a lot about the Underground Railroad and the Civil Rights Movement, we know very little about what happens in between these crucial landmarks for the black population in the U.S.; this is what initially sparked my interest. The Great Migration played an important role in shaping American society and it answers many unsolved questions as to how the major cities across the United States gained their black populations. Each of the stories entertained and constantly grasped my attention through its easy reading and understanding of the hardships Ida Mae, George, and Robert faced both in the South as well as in the North. Additionally, Wilkerson gave intriguing insight as to how the lives of famous blacks were affected by the migration, such as Jesse Owens and Spike Lee. One weakness that stood out upon reading the novel was how it jumped around between the stories of Ida Mae, George, Robert, the historical background, and other information Wilkerson was trying to give to her audience. It seemed that there was too much information. Due to all of this jumping around, there was a lot of unnecessary repetition made within stories that could have been avoided in cutting down sections. Finally, it seemed that Wilkerson was trying to emphasize the migration too much as she mentioned several times throughout the novel that her parents were a part of this historical event. While these are minor weaknesses, they made the receiving of the information difficult to comprehend. This novel is important because it enlightens readers about how modern society was formed and how injustices and inequality were still faced by migrants despite journeying far away from the Jim Crow
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