The National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress, is held every year on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This year the festival took place on September 24th and 25th. More than 100 authors headlined the festival, including such greats as Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winner Toni Morrison, Pulitzer Prize-winners Siddhartha Mukherjee and Jennifer Egan, Garrison Keillor, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Isabel Wilkerson. The whole festival was brought to television that weekend by Book TV on C-SPAN2, but I was unable to watch any of it when it originally aired.
Book TV has been re-airing portions of the festival, and last night I had the opportunity to watch Isabel Wilkerson talk about her book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, and take questions from the audience. If you are not familiar with The Warmth of Other Suns, it is the story–that took Wilkerson 15 years to research and write–of the millions of African Americans who migrated from the South to other parts of the country during the era of Jim Crow, in order to find better opportunities and make new lives for themselves. This book has been on my TBR pile for quite some time now and I’m hoping to get to it soon. I really enjoyed listening to Wilkerson talk about the book and how the Great Migration affected the country, the Civil Rights Movement, African American culture, and how it changed 20th-century culture for all of us. Generations of Americans are still benefiting–and will continue to benefit–from the courage of these people to leave the South and find new lives in other parts of the U.S.
I encourage you to take the time to watch this video of Isabel Wilkerson speaking at the 2011 National Book Festival, as well as the call-in portion of the program. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.