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Read The Warmth of Other Suns with us!

The Warmth of Other Suns, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, Isabel Wilkerson, chronicles the largely untold story of the Great Migration, in which some six million Black people migrated to cities in the North and West from the South's Jim Crow caste system between 1915 and 1970. Current anti-migrant rhetoric hinges upon dividing communities of color and explicitly pitting African Americans with roots in the south, against migrants today. It's important that we build bridges and continue to foster respect and knowledge about one another's unique experiences and our shared history. Discussion Guide The questions below are meant to guide important conversation topics based on the book and informed by the work of our organizations. A list of sources we used for the guide is below including a link to the authors official reading group guide, from which we borrowed a couple of these questions. 1. The Warmth of Other Suns combines a sweeping historical perspective with vivid intimate portraits of three individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, George Swanson Starling, and Robert Pershing Foster. What is the value of this dual focus, of shifting between the panoramic and the close-up? In what ways are Ida Mae Gladney, George Starling, and Robert Foster representative of the millions of other migrants who journeyed from South to North? 2. In many ways The Warmth of Other Suns seeks to tell a new storyabout the Great Migration of Black people from the South to the North and those who stayedand to set the record straight about the true significance of that migration. What were the major economic, social, and historical forces that sparked the Great Migration? Why did blacks leave in such great numbers from 1915 to 1970? 3. What does George Starlings experience in the 40s in Detroit, Michigan factory work and in the orange groves of Eustis, Florida reveal about the history of factory, farm work and workers rights in the United States? 4. Wilkerson quotes Black Boy in which Richard Wright wrote, on arriving in the North: I had fled one insecurity and embraced another (p. 242). What unique challenges did Black migrants face in the North? How did the range of challenges during the Great Migration affect the lives of Ida Mae Gladney, George Starling, and Robert Foster? 5. Why were northern working-class whites so hostile to Black migrants?


6. Wilkerson points out that the three most influential figures in jazz were all children of the Great Migration: Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane. How have arts and culture in the United States been shaped by the Great Migration? 7. What were the most horrifying conditions of Jim Crow South? What instances of racial terrorism stand out most strongly in the book? What daily injustices and humiliations did Black people have to face there? 8. What is the comparison between Jim Crow racism and contemporary racism? What has changed and what hasnt? What does this mean for society? 9. What were the economic arguments leveled against migrants leaving the South from people both in the South and North? What were the challenges to the economic dignity of Black people who stayed in the South and those that left? Were the arguments against migration similar to the ones we hear now in the contemporary immigration debate? 10. How might learning this history be important for building bridges between Black communities with roots in the South and recent immigrants of all backgrounds? References We used these sources to write our guide. Look them up to learn more about the Great Migration. The Warmth of Other Suns Official Reading Group Guide Up South: African-American Migration in the Era of the Great War In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture About Us The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) is an education and advocacy group comprised of African Americans and black immigrants from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. BAJI's analysis emphasizes the impact of racism and economic globalization on African American and immigrant communities as a basis for forging alliances across these communities. Visit for more information. Drop the I-Word is a public education campaign presented by the Applied Research Center and and powered by immigrants and diverse communities across the country that value human dignity and are working to eradicate the dehumanizing term "illegals" and related language, from everyday use and public discourse. The i-word opens the door to racial profiling and violence and prevents truthful, respectful debate on immigration. No human being is "illegal." Visit for more information.