Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Bob and I are filling in some blanks from our Civil Rights tour of two years ago. This time we are listening to the audio book The Warmth of Different Suns as we travel. This book, about the Great Migration of southern blacks to the north and west between 1915 and 1970 is truly superb. It gives the broader history of this migration and also carefully follows the paths and lives of three individual migrants - citrus picker from Florida, tenant farmer wife from Mississippi, and doctor from Louisiana. In each case it was clear that it was a matter of life and death, either immediate and physical or long term and psychological, to get out of the Jim Crow south, even though all went into difficult circumstances. Every time I hear stories about being black in the south in Jim Crow days, I get it just a little deeper how terrifying daily life under those circumstances was. I think I understood the anger over indignities and unfairness, the sense of being trapped, even to some extent the poverty, but not the day after day terror, like European Jews must have felt when Hitler was rising. I strongly recommend the book The Warmth of Different Suns in either printed or audio book form.