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Read "The Warmth of Other Suns" for Black History Month

Ah, Black History Month is upon us! I won't go into the usual schpiel about how it's the shortest month of the year. Black History Month is what you make of it. And this year, I'm encouraging you to read "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson for Black History Month.

Why? Because if you have at least one Southern African-American parent or grandparent, no matter where you were born and raised, you will understand them better.

"The Warmth of Other Suns" chronicles the Great Migration -- the migration of over six million African-Americans out of the South from the turn of the 20th century to the 1970's. Focusing on the stories of three migrants, Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Starling and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster, Wilkerson interweaves demographics and historical facts about life in the Jim Crow South and the lives of the migrants after leaving the South with the stories of Gladney, Starling and Foster. For me, with one Southern African-American parent, it was like an emotional Rosetta Stone. It helped me understand my father's wariness and trepidation about my and my siblings' dealings with whites when we were young. It explained the hardness of his character. It explained something my mother would always say to us kids about my father when he seemed so harsh, bordering on cruel: "Your father grew up hard; your father grew up seeing things as a child that children should not see."

Indeed. When you read about the utter depravity of racism in the Jim Crow South as deftly shown in this book, you'll better understand why our Southern forbears left and how they did so with the highest of hopes for my generation.

I feel so strongly about this book that, if I had the power, I would make every African-American read this book. It is the unvarnished truth of the Jim Crow South and of our Southern forbears. If you don't read anything else for Black History Month -- or for the year, for that matter -- read "The Warmth of Other Suns." I'm hoping against hope that the film rights will be purchased and someone like Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, or Oprah Winfrey will step up and bring it to the big screen.

For more about Isabel Wilkerson and "The Warmth of Other Suns," visit here. Kudos to Ms. Wilkerson for giving us this gift of Black history.


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