The Center of American Studies at the University of Sussex is a baby. It started this year, yet already they've managed to organise some amazing people to come and speak on campus. Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending an intimate seminar with Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer-prize winning author who spent 15 years researching, and interviewed 1,200 people, in order to write her narrative non-fiction epic 'The Warmth of Other Suns.'
She was perfectly coiffed, insanely eloquent, and had the same grace and charisma as Michelle Obama. Her book focuses on the Great Migration, or the three strands of internal migration, harnessed by African Americans in their plight to leave the Jim Crow South in search for freedom. Some crossed treacherous terrain and put their lives on the line to escape to the North East, to cities like Philly or New York. Some escaped to the Midwest, to places like Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland, Ohio. And others escaped to the West, towards California. The Great Migration, spanning decades until the 1970s, is an enormous part of history so important and prevalent still in today's culture. Among many amazing examples, had it not been for the Great Migration, Isabel argued, the Rolling Stones would never have formed. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger bonded over their shared possession of a Muddy Waters - McKinley Morganfield, a product of the Great Migration - album on vinyl, which had on it a song entitled Rolling Stone.
It was Wilkerson's first time speaking in the U.K., after spending three years on the road across the U.S.A. 'The Warmth of Other Suns' has been catapulted to the top of my Must-Read List.
I've been reading a lot about America recently - about gentrification in New York City, and certain 'New Journalists' chasing the American Dream in Las Vegas and in Kansas, respectively - and have a deep yearning to return. I really miss it! Here are a few snaps I dug up that have been aiding in my nostalgia: