The Warmth of Other Suns Essay

THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS Isabel Wilkerson is an African American Howard University Journalism graduate writer and the first black woman in the history of American Journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize. Among her notable works is the novel “The Warmth of Other Suns”. The novel The Warmth of Other Suns was about the Great Migration which occurred between the years 1915-1970 and this was the movement of approximately seven million Black people out of the Southern United States to the North, Midwest and Western states from 1916 to 1970.

Blacks migrated to escape widespread racism in he South, to seek employment opportunities in industrial cities of the North, to get better education for their children, and to pursue what was widely perceived to be a more prosperous life. Wilkerson wrote this book because she wanted to report about the most under-reported story in American history. Despite the fact that the Great Migration was one of the largest internal migrations in the US, it was either not reported in-depth or not reported at all and her book addressed the omissions.

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Also her parents were among the 7 million people who partook in the Great Migration and hat was one personal reason why she wrote The Warmth of Other Suns. Wilkerson chose the three characters in her book because their stories represent that of the millions who migrated during the Great Migration. Also the events were easily recounted when the participants were called upon and official records corroborated those details that were verifiable. Also with the passing of the earliest and succeeding generations of migrants, and the stories of these three characters became the least replaceable sources of any understanding of the Great Migration.

If I has the opportunity to meet Ms. Wilkerson I would ask her how long it took to get he stories of the three characters in her book considering the fact that they do not reside in the same place. The three characters each had a motivation for leaving home, for Ida Mae Brandon Gladney a mother of three and who was a free-spirited sharecropper’s wife; she left Chickasaw County Mississippi for Milwaukee and then for Chicago after a family member is nearly beaten to death or a theft he had not committed . He was accused of having stolen turkeys which belonged to the planter for whom they all worked as sharecroppers.

She left on March 5, 1913 about three years after the start of the Great Migration. For George Swanson Starling who is a head strong person who had been a college student and so he had some education and only returned to picking fruit in Florida because the money had run out for college. Because he’d had some education, he was quite aware of how the workers were being cheated and how – the unfair working conditions under which they had to toil. And so he began to try to organize the people for better pay. So he began to argue for better wages.

And in doing so, he got on the bad side of the growers, of the grove owners who were not accustomed to people – black people, the workers, the pickers, questioning anything. And so, this was a really treacherous period of time to be standing up to the grove owners, and he did that. And as a result, there was a warned him, and he left town and headed to New York. Robert Joseph Pershing who is the last of the three migrants. He was the last child out of three children; he was an ambitious surgeon who Journeys from Louisiana to California to escape the caste system of the South.

His motivation for leaving was e left because he was a surgeon. He had worked – served his country in the Army. He was a captain and had performed surgery in Austria during the Korean War. But when he returned home, e found that he could not perform surgery or even work in the hospital in his hometown of Monroe, Louisiana because of his color. And so he set out from Louisiana to California in order to make a way for himself and for his family in a new land. The positive experience of Ida Mae Brandon Gladney is like the other two they has more freedom and independence as black people compared to when they were in the south.

Also the “Do’s and Dont’s” published in The Defender and the fact that people pointed out things she wasn’t supposed to do in her opinion was a good thing. Also the fact that she could vote whereas back home in Missisipi she wasn’t llowed to. A negative experience was the fact that they had to move from flat to flat and the problem with finding housing because Chicago was trying to discourage the migration of any more colored people from the south. Also the outbreak of the riots and the shutdown of factories and the difficulty finding a Job and an increased cost of living.

In the case of George Swanson Starling, I think the fact that he was able to get away from Florida so he could not be lynched is a positive experience. Also the fact that he was able to find a Job right away upon his arrival to New York was a ositive thing despite the fact that he was overqualified and overeducated for the job. Also the arrival of his wife Inez and their baby was a positive experience. One negative experience was when he got on the bad side of one of the southern conductors.

The porter thought that for an African American male, he should be a little bit more humble, but Starling wasn’t because he felt he was more educated than most of the people he worked with. Also the fact that he was buried in work all the time and his son would end up sinking himself into drugs and crime, Finally, for Robert Joseph Pershing Foster, I think his negative experience started from his journey to Los Angeles. His inability to get a hotel to sleep because of his color was a negative experience. His inability to secure a Job in Oakland was another negative experience.

Also he was short on cash and did not have enough money to pay for an apartment. The less than desirable Job he had to settle for in Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company as a doctor who went house to house to collect urine samples and do routine examinations of customers seeking coverage. Also the rejection of him by a colored patient. Even people who knew him back from Monroe his hometown did not want to seek him out for treatment because in the north they had the option of going to see a white physician and that was what most of them did unlike down in the south where they were stuck with the black physicians.

Also the fact that Vegas was off limits to African Americans and he wanted to go there so bad The warm welcome from the Becks and Dunlap was a positive experience, because they were people he could look up to. The Becks taking him in when he could not afford an apartment I think was a positive experience. He was able to work hard enough to move into an apartment. He was able to save up enough money to rent an admitting privileges to a hospital in LA after 2 years of hard work.

The fact that he was actually able to go to Las Vegas as a black person and finally being able to work hard and making a bigger name for himself thereby proving the people from Monroe wrong. The difficulties these three encountered ranges from Ida Mae and her husband’s difficulty in finding an apartment, having to move from one place to the other, to the difficulty finding a Job both for the husband and for her an unskilled colored woman, dealing with the rejection by the city of the immigrants from the outh. Immigrants competing against each other for Jobs.

They had a difficult time making the adjustment. For George Swanson Starling although he was lucky to find a job immediately, he was over qualified and over educated and was paid less than he deserved. Also bringing his wife Inez to New York and the issues they both had to face both in their marriage and in raising their children. Then the difficulties he experienced at the work place with the southern porter. In the case of Robert Joseph Pershing Foster, the incidence he had with getting a hotel room to sleep in during his driving to California.

His inability to find a good paying Job and an apartment immediately. I think the difficulty they all had in common was the less than welcome reception they received from the black people in the north. I will recommend this book to someone because it gives an in-depth narration of the Great Migration in such a way that it is not boring since it was made into a form of a novel rather than a textbook. The thing I learnt about myself after reading this book is, nothing good comes easy, I may be faced with difficulties and hurdles on my way to the top but as long as I keep my eyes on the price, I will get it.


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