45 pages 1 hour read

Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth Of Other Suns

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2010

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Part 1, Chapters 1-2

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1: “In The Land of Our Forefathers”

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary: “Leaving”

The first chapter of The Warmth of Other Suns introduces the reader to the book’s three main characters. The chapter also hints at some of the reasons Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Starling, and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster left the South in search of better opportunities for themselves and their families in the cities of the American North and West. 

Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary: “The Great Migration, 1915-1970”

Wilkerson underscores the scope of the Great Migration. It is a movement felt on a national scale and one experienced in the life of every Black family: “from the early years of the twentieth century, to well past its middle age, nearly every black family in the American South, which means nearly every black family in America, had a decision to make” (8). The combined effects of these millions of decisions led to a decades-long process shaped more by the accidents of geography and local circumstances than by planning and coordination:

[The Great Migration] would become perhaps the biggest underreported story of the twentieth century. It was vast. It was leaderless. It crept along so many thousands of currents over so long a stretch of time as to be difficult for the press to truly capture it while it was underway (9).