Ida_Mae_in_the_Cotton_VerticalI found this @Bee Columbus‘s facebook, and the article was a fascinating read.

Isabel Wilkerson is a former journalist who wrote a long-form piece about the great migration of African descendants from the southern United States to the northern states in search of a better life.

I’ve always found these stories fascinating, of course because the Caribbean is touched by similar migrations, huge ones (all inter-connected no doubt) that greatly impacted the shape and form of the modern Caribbean.

This conversation with her by Tolu Olorunda, was interesting in and of itself and I will keep an eye out for this book.

The piece opens with this quote from another writer I’ve long admired, and it gave me goosebumps:

Home is where the hatred is
Home is filled with pain and it
Might not be such a bad idea
If I never, never went home again
—Gil Scott-Heron

An excerpt from the article:

Now, you could have written the book in some dreadful, legalese, textbook format. But you chose something, I think, more poetic, something magisterial—narrative journalism, which in long-form demands a lot of time, hard work, extensive research. And it was fascinating to see that in 2010 someone was still keeping alive that legacy.

Thank you. I chose it because I wanted to pull the reader into that world beyond imagining-right-now: when you think of the daily terrors, arcane laws, and then the hard decisions the people made to move, and even what they encountered when they made it to this New World. I wanted the readers to picture themselves in those same situations: see what they saw, feel what they felt, and to ask, What would I have done in the same situation?

So I wanted it to come alive for the reader, which means an extra layer of work because you do all the research necessary to write the more scholarly book, which is important for the furtherance of intellectual understanding, then you take another step, though, to get deep into the lives of the characters to tell their story: you spend a lot of time with them. I wanted to reach as many readers with a story that has been, in my view, the greatest underreported story of the 20th century. And I thought people needed to know about it.

One of my inspirations was The Grapes of Wrath, which is a seminal novel about the Dust Bowl migration, and yet there was no Grapes of Wrath for the Great Migration, which is by many times a larger relocation of people within the borders of this country.

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