My dad was born in Mississippi. As a child when my curiosity reigned, I would ask him where exactly he was born and he would say “Foote, Mississippi” and I would giggle and giggle. I just knew that there was no such place. But, there is. My dad could never tell me much about it. He was only six-years-old when his family moved to Grand Rapids in 1951. All he could say was that “it was country”.
Of course, he meant rural. And a quick Google search of the area shows me a scant town off of Lake Washington in western Mississippi that is, indeed, rural. Even with Google’s Street View, I can only see miles and miles of green dotted with a house here or there. I can’t imagine that much has changed since he left in 1951.
Reading The Warmth of Other Suns brings all of this to mind. Pulitzer-prize winner Isabel Wilkerson’s nonfiction account of The Great Migration of blacks from the South tells the stories of families like my own and provides insight for people like me, who can only imagine what it was like for my parents and grandparents before I got here.
The book is the seventh selection for GVSU’s Community Reading Project and the author will be in town for their Conversation with Isabel Wilkerson on March 21st. Prior to that, you can come down to the library for our Community Book Discussion, featuring a panel of GVSU professors and notable participants in The Great Migration.
Our book discussion will take place downtown at the Main Library from 7-8:30pm on Thursday, March 15. There’s still time to check out a copy, delve into the book and join the discussion!