Author, Isabel Wilkerson, at Reynolda House
October 22nd, 2012 | 1 comment »
On Sunday, October 21st, I had the pleasure of hearing author, Isabel Wilkerson, discuss “The Warmth of Other Suns” at Reynolda House. She discussed the influence this book has had on readers, black and white, who were unaware of the depth of violence under Jim Crow and how young people today (thankfully) cannot fathom the world of Jim Crow. She told how the parents of artist, Romare Bearden, moved from Charlotte to New York, after the toddler, Bearden, who was light-skinned, with curly blond hair, was nearly taken by a white mob from his darker-skinned father.(1)In closing her talk, she read the Richard Wright quote that was the source for the title of this book.
“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”
― Richard Wright
Then she said she had another thought to add to that quote. She said “and those other suns were in them all along.” She discussed how the book was about freedom, and the lengths people will go to in order to be free. She talked of how the children of the participants of the Great Migration, herself included, often feeling like “southerners, once removed”.
It was an excellent program and an amazing opportunity to learn more about the creation of this monumental book.
We’ve talked about those who migrated, but what about those who stayed, those who continued to suffer under Jim Crow and those who gave up their lives in staying, and what about the children and grand children of this migration who now choose to return to the south? Wilkerson referred to this as the “reverse migration.” Let’s discuss those who stayed and those who came back.