Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed my sadness when I come to the last chapter of a book that deeply touches my heart. I don’t want to say goodbye. I did this with this book. Wilkerson’s is a superb narrator. Ida Mae, Robert, and George are the 3 people from over 1200 that she selected to tell their story alternating from their lives to a larger historical perspective and I found myself so immersed in their lives and the history and reflecting on my own family that I just didn’t want to stop. Back in the 80’s I set out to do genealogy and oral interviews with family members which would become the basis for poems. This book sent me back to that mindset and my mind spiraling about future projects in quilts.
I was so immersed in the 3 lives Wilkerson focused on that I didn’t want their stories to end. I wanted to know even more…I wanted more historical revelations…not because the narrations or histories where inadequate, but because the lives of African Americans is so full and rich and yet so little known beyond generalizations by the larger public regardless of race.
Wilkerson also treats history as a fluid, living, breathing body of knowledge. I take the view that there are artifacts, letters, data that have yet to be dusted off, studied, and revealed and we need to be gingerly about clamping down on fixed notions, ideas as if they will never change.
This book along with The Grace of Silence will be on my lips for years to come and will become re-reads in the future.