Isabel Wilkerson speaks at AAMLO

Have you guys read The Warmth of Other Suns?

If you have not read it, grab your library card and join the wait list (currently at 21 holds for 41 copies, also available through OPL as an e-book). It is a really, really good book. And it’s not just me that thinks that! I picked it up over the holidays last winter after seeing it listed on pretty much every best books of 2010 list I read. And it totally deserves to be. Did I mention that it’s a really, really good book?

It’s about the large scale migration of African Americans out of the South between 1915 and 1970, told through the stories of three individuals who were part of it. Here’s the description from the book website:

In a story of hope and longing, three young people set out from the American South during different decades of the 20th Century en route to the North and West in search of the Warmth of Other Suns. They were forced out by the limits of the caste into which they were born.

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Starling and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster are among the six million African-Americans who fled the South during what would become know as the Great Migration. This book interweaves their stories and those of others who made the journey with the larger forces and inner motivations that compelled them to flee, and with the challenges they confronted upon arrival in the New World.

Based on interviews with 1,200 people who participated in the Migration and on newly available census analyses and research into archival material, The Warmth of Other Suns tells one of the greatest underreported stories in American history. It is the story of how the northern cities came to be, of the music and culture that might not have existed had the people not left, the consequences North and South and, most importantly, of the courageous souls who dared to leave everything they knew for the hope of something better.

It’s engrossing and moving and just completely fascinating and you all really should read it.

Anyway. I’m sure you’re thinking that this sounds interesting and all that, but what does it have to do with Oakland? I’ll tell you. The author, Isabel Wilkerson, is going to be speaking right here in Oakland on Wednesday night, at the African American Museum and Library (AAMLO) and you should totally go see her!

Isabel Wilkerson at AAMLO

Copies of The Warmth of Other Suns will be available for purchase at the event for those of who just can’t wait for a library copy, and Wilkerson will be signing copies after the talk.

So that’s tomorrow, Wednesday, May 25th at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, located at 659 14th Street in downtown Oakland (at MLK). The event goes from 7 to 9 pm, and doors open at 6:30. There is no reserved seating, and it’s going to be crowded, so I would recommend arriving early to get a good seat.