Isabel Wilkerson | 622 pages | 2010
From 1915 to 1970, six million people moved from the segregated south to the promise of a better life in the north in an exodus that changed the face of America. Wilkerson tells the tale of one of the largest migrations in world history via the stories of three black Americans who made the journey: Ida May Gladney, who moved from Mississippi to find work and a life in Chicago; Robert foster, who relocated from Louisiana to California and went on to become a quasi-celebrity physician; and George Starling, who moved from Florida to Harlem to find an only slightly less hardscrabble life awaiting him ‘up north’.
Wilkerson masterfully tells the tale of minorities fleeing an oppressive sharecropping and segregation system to a celebrated- but unknown- northern region which, with the exception of the Civil War, may have been the largest demographic upheaval in US history by placing the reader in the rooms, the cars and the cotton fields with her subjects over many decades. A great migration it was, and Wilkerson does it justice with a stunning piece of journalism and scholarship. Recommend.