Draft Paper George Swanson
Isabel Wilkerson’s book “The Wrath of Other Suns” is a the story of the Great Migration in the United States, the exodus of more than six million black Americans out of Jim Crow and how they migrated looking for a better life or just to survive to the North and West. It was a mass movement of common people that took over six decades, from the 1910’s to the 1970’s. It takes place around the center of the twentieth century American history and in some ways, it’s still an unfolding story.
American cherish the idea of freedom, however that same idea wasn’t for everyone throughout the country’s history. The Great Migration had slaves and their descendents escaped the racial system and oppression they faced of Jim Crow, in look for something better, equal and fair. This movement definitely transformed the American culture since it had “90% of blacks in this country living in the south. By the time the mass movement ended in the 1960’s, roughly half of America’s blacks resided in the North” (Stauffer)
The Great Migration transformed American culture which Wilkerson does a great job on describing or reproducing a national story that recognizes and explains the African American culture at that time as well as society based on a racial system.
Wilkerson rigorously researched, and made an amazing job of a written historical narrative that has much to teach us about the American past as well as suggesting how America may do a better job of confronting its present problems.
Wilkerson focuses on the live of three people who left the South in different decades for different destinations and different reasons which were: Ida Mae, George Swanson and Robert Foster. However, in this essay I will focus just in one, George Swanson. In 1945, George Swanson left Florida, for New York City to escape a lynch mob consisted of plantation owners and the police. He was an ambitious young man whose dream was to attend college. Swanson was forced to work on orange fields to make a living after he was kicked out of schools since he couldn't afford it anymore. When he attempted to organize a strike with his fellow workers in order to have or demand better working conditions and fair play, he made the decision to migrate to New York when he learned that the orange plantation owners were planning on giving him “a necktie party” (Wilkerson, pg. 156).
The author tells the story of her three main characters with deep historical attention to how the black life was in the South at that time and how they lived under a racial system where black were at the bottom of it. To illustrate the depth of white supremacy at that time over black in Florida, Wilkerson portrayed the struggles and the reasons that led George Swanson to migrate to New York City. In describing George Swanson as an older man in New York City, she writes: “His face is long, and
creaseless. He was handsome in his day, a basketball player in high school, good with numbers, a ladies’ man. He holds out a crate of Florida oranges like the ones he used to pick and offerers you one, says, even after all the picking and all that it cost him. they’re better than the ones from California. A smile lifts his face at the absurdities of the world he left, and which, in some ridiculous way, he still loves. Then his eyes well up over all that they have seen” (Wilkerson, pg. 48).
The Great Migration was a social event of such magnitude and duration that it ...
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