Author: Isabele Wilkerson
From the early twentieth century through its midpoint, some six million black southerners relocated themselves to the North, changing the course of civil, social, and economic life in the U.S. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson offers a broad and penetrating look at the Great Migration, a movement without leaders or precedent. Drawing on interviews and archival research, Wilkerson focuses on three individuals with varying reasons for leaving the South. She traces their particular life stories, the sometimes furtive leave-takings; the uncertainties they faced in Chicago, New York, and L.A.; and the excitement and longing for freer, more prosperous lives. She contrasts their hopes and aspirations with the realities of life in northern cities when the jobs eventually evaporated from the inner cities and new challenges arose. Wilkerson intersperses historical detail of the broader movement and the sparks that set off the civil rights era to create a sweeping and stunning look at a watershed event in U.S. history.
640 pages, Random House (September 2010)