45 pages 1 hour read

Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth Of Other Suns

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2010

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Part 4, Chapters 22-25

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 4: “The Kinder Mistress”

Part 4, Chapter 22 Summary: “The Prodigals”

When migrants returned to the South to visit, “they put on a show” (365) and brought their Northern-born “children [who] did not have the internalized deference [to whites] of their Southern cousins” (366).

This cultural difference led to a horrifying event in American racial history: the murder of Emmett Till, who “was perhaps the most memorialized black northerner to ever go south, if only because he never made it back alive and because of the brutal reasons he didn’t” (369). Till was lynched during a summer vacation trip to Mississippi after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. The murder led to widespread outrage in the North and helped garner much support for the burgeoning Civil Rights movement. 

Part 4, Chapter 23 Summary: “Disillusionment”

If African-American families in the North tried to move into white neighborhoods, they faced racism and segregation. When the Clarks—a well-educated African-American family—attempted to move into the working class suburb of Cicero, Illinois, the idea sparked a “full-out riot” (374) in the area. Afterwards, members of the white rioting mob were exonerated; the only blame fell to “the people who […] should have never rented the apartment to the Clarks in the first place” (374). This officially sanctioned segregation to split neighborhoods along racial lines was common practice in the North—a practice the effects of which still predominate today.