Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Warmth of Other Suns

Just finished reading “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson, and can only say two words: “Read it.” The book is a culmination of 15 years of research and writing by Wilkerson, and tells the history of the migration of black citizens from the South to northern and western United States. Within the telling of that larger story, Wilkerson chronicles the lives of three individuals who made the journey. One of them is Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a woman of faith about whom Wilkerson writes, on page 532 of the book:

“Ida Mae Gladney had the humblest trappings but was the richest of them all. She had lived the hardest life, been given the least education, seen the worst the South could hurl at her people, and did not let it break her. She lived longer in the North than in the South but never forsook her origins, never changed the person she was deep inside, never changed her accent, speaking as thick a Mississippi drawl in her nineties as the day she caught the train out of Okolona sixty-odd years before. She was surrounded by the clipped speech of the North, the crime on the streets, the flight of the white people from her neighborhood, but it was as if she were immune to it all. She took the best of what she saw in the North and the South and interwove them in the way she saw fit. She followed every jump shot of the Chicago Bulls and knew how to make sweet potato pie like the best of them in the Delta. She lived in the moment, surrendered to whatever the day presented, and remained her true, original self. Her success was spiritual, perhaps the hardest of all to achieve. And because of that, she was the happiest and lived the longest of them all.” Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?" Isaiah 58:6

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