If you never have enough time to read a book, One Book, One Chicago is giving you a whole year to explore its newest pick: Isabel Wilkerson’s award-winning "The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration." With the book weighing in at a hefty 642 pages, you'll still have to read almost two pages a day but who knows you may just learn something along the way.
It has been said by the likes of the Wall St. Journal and others that Ms. Wilkerson's epic novel does for the Great Migration what John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" did for the Okies. Wilkerson's book brings attention to the Great Northern Migration which took place over five decades in the mid-twentieth century. During this period approximately six million blacks left former Confederate states in the South and headed north where they transformed their lives and the culture of America.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author knows her material first hand, as the daughter of one of the Southern migrants. In addition, Wilkerson conducted extensive research for her book by interviewing over 1,200 people then telling their stories with her superior narrative skill--humanizing history along the way.
The selection of "The Warmth of Other Suns" which was announced yesterday afternoon by Mayor Rahm Emanuel along with Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon and Library Board President Linda Johnson Rice is part of a major expansion of the Library’s One Book, One Chicago program.
"The themes in this book were the inspiration for us to expand the One Book, One Chicago program to 12 full months of programs and conversations,” explains Commissioner Bannon adding “The ideas and discussions they spark are simply too big to be contained in a single month. We look forward to engaging with all Chicagoans to hear their story, to hear how they helped to create the tapestry of our city.”
Beginning this April and continuing into spring 2014, the Chicago Public Library will host a series of events each month, all exploring the theme of migration and how it has shaped – and continues to shape – Chicago.
The Library is joining with many community partners to bring Chicagoans a variety of ways to participate each month. The events will take place throughout the city in neighborhood libraries, at the downtown Harold Washington Library Center and at partner locations. People will have the opportunity to take part in art exhibits, story-telling, panel discussions, music performances, and book discussions.
In April, WBEZ and the Center for Civic Reflection will hold three community discussions based on Richard Wright’s Black Boy, in which he describes his migration to Chicago. These discussions will explore Chicago's history as a gateway for such hopeful migrants from the 20th century to today, with a community conversation that starts with Wright's words about seeking "the warmth of other suns" and asks if those who sought out Chicago during the Great Migration found what they wanted.
In May, Chicago historian and recent Champion of Freedom Award recipient Timuel Black will join Johnson Publishing President & CEO Linda Johnson Rice and historian Adam Green at the Harold Washington Library for a discussion across generations of how the Great Migration shaped the city and their lives.
In June, Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events will offer performances by Blues musicians at branch libraries, in advance of the 30th Annual Chicago Blues Festival which this year is themed “Rollin’ Up the River,” celebrating the evolution of the blues from South to North up the Mississippi.
From May through October, StoryCorps, a national nonprofit oral history project which aims to create a portrait of who we are as Americans, will visit 13 CPL locations each month to offer Chicagoans opportunities to tell their migration story.
On October 1, author Isabel Wilkerson will appear at the Harold Washington Library Center to read from and discuss her book.
About One Book, One Chicago.
One Book, One Chicago began in the fall of 2001, to encourage all Chicagoans to read the same book at the time, bringing our diverse city together around one great book. The One Book, One Chicago program has been replicated in more than 150 cities across the country and suburban Chicago.
Partners in this year’s One Book, One Chicago include The Art Institute of Chicago, Center for Civic Reflections, Congo Square Theatre Company, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Chicago Office of New Americans, DePaul University, DuSable Museum of African American History, Little Black Pearl, StoryCorps@ your library, and the Third Coast International Audio Festival.
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