Isabel Wilkerson won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for her reporting as Chicago bureau chief of The New York Times. The award made her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African American to win for individual reporting. She won the George Polk Award for her coverage of the Midwest and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her research into the Great Migration. She has lectured on narrative writing at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and has served as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and as the James M. Cox Jr. Professor of Journalism at Emory University. She is currently Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University. During the Great Migration, her parents journeyed from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington, D.C., where she was born and reared. This is her first book.
"Profound, necessary, and an absolute delight to read."---Toni Morrison
"The Warmth of Other Suns is a sweeping and yet deeply personal tale of America's hidden twentieth-century history---the long and difficult trek of southern blacks to the northern and western cities. This is an epic for all Americans who want to understand the making of our modern nation."---Tom Brokaw
"A seminal work of narrative nonfiction ... You will never forget these people."---Gay Talese
"With compelling prose and considered analysis, Isabel Wilkerson has given us a landmark portrait of one of the most significant yet little-noted shifts in American history, a shift with an infinity of implications for questions of race, power, politics, religion, and class---implications that are unfolding even now. This book will be long remembered, and savored."---Jon Meacham
"Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns is an American masterpiece, a stupendous literary success that channels the social sciences as iconic biography in order to tell the vast story of a people's reinvention of itself and of a nation---the first complete history of the Great Black Migration from start to finish, north, east, west."---David Levering Lewis
"Isabel Wilkerson's book is a masterly narrative of the rich wisdom and deep courage of a great people. Don't miss it!"---Cornel West
"The actions of the people in this book were both universal and distinctly American. Their migration was a response to an economic and social structure not of their making. They did what humans have done for centuries when life became untenable---what the pilgrims did under the tyranny of British rule ... what the Irish did when there was nothing to eat, what the European Jews did during the spread of Nazism.... They did what human beings looking for freedom, throughout history, have often done. They left."---from The Warmth of Other Suns
In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to previously untapped data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.
With stunning detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois state senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue medicine, becoming the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful career that allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties.
Wilkerson brilliantly captures her subjects' first treacherous and exhausting cross-country trips by car and train and their new lives in colonies that grew into ghettos, as well as how they changed their new cities with southern food, faith, and culture and improved them with discipline, drive, and hard work. Both a riveting microcosm and a major assessment, The Warmth of Other Suns is a bold, remarkable work, a superb account of an "unrecognized immigration" within our o