A documentary premiered on television Tuesday night that warrants your attention, including that of teenagers and young adults. Five more episodes of “Soul of a Nation” will be shown at 9 p.m. on ABC, locally known as Channel 5 in Boston.
The sea change of recognition in working and living more fully with people of color continues in this country. The March 2 episode wove current events, such as the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, with historical clips of the Black lived experience, namely Black soldiers returning home after fighting in World War II. The U.S. Armed Forces were segregated during the war, until President Harry Truman desegregated all branches of the military on July 26, 1948, in an executive order.
Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and nonfiction author, spent over 10 years researching and then, writing, “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration,” a book about the Great Migration of Blacks from the segregation-infused South to the industrialized North beginning in post-World War I. This relocation over five decades did not resolve the undercurrent of racism and missed opportunities for understanding that remain with us today.
It was at a writers’ workshop in Hartford, Conn., in the late 1990s that Wilkerson said she was working on the Great Migration book. In 2010, it was published. The local group, Courageous Conversations Towards Racial Justice, is continuing its discussions of Wilkerson’s follow-up book on the Great Migration, namely “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.”
In a broadcast interview, Wilkerson, the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, said her research on her first book contributed to the creation of the second book. As the country, if perhaps still reluctantly, examines its role in racism, the Courageous Conversations book discussion may be a good starting point for people who want to be more involved in learning about how racist attitudes toward any person of color affect us all. Go to www.courageousconversations-milton.org to learn more about the book discussions.
– Lisa D. Connell