My American History courses in school did not cover the Great Migration - the relocation of 6 million Southern Americans to northern and western stateMy American History courses in school did not cover the Great Migration - the relocation of 6 million Southern Americans to northern and western states between World War I and 1975. I remember one American History course in 11th grade explaining Jim Crow a bit, but until you've considered some of the real world examples of how it affected actual people's daily lives, you don't have a anything like understanding of how difficult and wrong it was. Other Suns is full cover-to-cover with such examples.
Other Suns is an impressive accomplishment, both because nothing like it on the Great Migration had previously been attempted and also because of the enormous scope of Wilkerson's project. She interviewed over 1200 aging African-American "Great Migrants" over many years to find the three whose complete life stories she presents here. I found myself fascinated with the strength of character of each of them as their stories pulled me through this long, often-times painful to read book.
Wilkerson draws parallels between African-American migrants from the South and immigrants from foreign countries, underscoring the shame and irony of this overlooked aspect of United States history. She also rightly uses strong words like "caste" and "class" to explain segregation and Jim Crow to a modern audience.
I can't recommend Other Suns enough; as difficult as it can be to face the uglier aspects of our history, facing them is a requirement of anyone who claims to believe in the idea of America and who wants to make the U.S. a better place....more