As a perfect way to close out February and Black History Month, the neXtworking crew met virtually for our first-ever book club! We took the opportunity to read the Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson, which presented some fascinating and compelling stories of the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West. As described in her TED Talk, from the time of World War I to the 1970s, more than 6 million African Americans (approximately half of the total population) migrated to other parts of the country in search of political asylum “within the borders of one’s own country”. We learn, this migration did not begin as simply a move. As Ms. Wilkerson explains, African American had to flee the Jim Crow South “just to be recognized as the citizens they had always been”. This great migration represented liberty for these individuals and their children to pursue their dreams – a single decision that would change the course of history.
During our session, we all shared insights about what we had read. Most surprisingly, is that almost no one had heard of “The Great Migration” by that title, though it was clearly a major movement of people and culture that we have all (perhaps unknowingly) experienced. We also took the opportunity as a group to share and listen to personal stories of families that directly and indirectly took part in this significant time in American history.
As with other neXtworking sessions, this session allowed us to challenge personal beliefs, enlighten ourselves with the knowledge of history for a better understanding of the trials, tribulations, and resilience of people of color. Ms. Wilkerson allowed each of us to empathize with the real life characters in her book, which allowed everyone to better understand the struggles that African Americans faced for decades – well beyond the civil war and the 13th Amendment.
We appreciate our community of neXtworkers for always being willing to engage in conversations around interesting and sometimes difficult subjects, as it only betters us as individuals and a group. We are looking forward to our neXtworking session in late April. Hope you can join us then!