As we embrace and remember the history of many African-Americans who lived in these United States of America, there are many discussions that will be taking place among family, friends and groups throughout Galveston County and abroad. 

I am grateful for the experience of being a part of the book discussion group at the Hitchcock Public Library. The book “The Warmth Of Other Suns” tells the story of the exodus of 6 million blacks who migrated to the North, East and West from the treacherous South. This was during a time in history when there was tremendous racism, unjust laws, biases, lynchings and other incomprehensible events and activities that suppressed and oppressed the black race. 

Before coming to the book discussion, I had not previously read the book; however, I heard great things about the book through Samuel Collins III.

In addition, I watched an interview where Isabel Wilkerson, the author, was discussing her book. It was a wonderful experience to gain an understanding from others in the group who were not from the South — some who can remember segregation and racial tension that plagued America. 

In 1949, there was an international travel guide called “The Negro Motorist Green Book” written for blacks to assist them in finding safe places within cities in the U.S.A., Bermuda, Mexico and Canada. For the state of Texas, Hitchcock and Galveston were listed in the guide, among numerous other cities. 

One lady from Michigan in the group who was not African-American from Michigan stated she had no idea of the horrible things that were happening in the South. The book highlighted that these black families and individuals simply wanted a better life for themselves and their children.

This is a common theme with all immigrants who come and live in the United States of America. These 6 million blacks fled the South with great courage not knowing what challenges they would face.

They left everything — land, family, friends and many other sentimental things — behind to pursue “The Warmth Of Other Suns.” It was a great privilege to discuss American history and to see how far we as a nation have come from the gross atrocities of the past. 

As a nation, we must understand the past and learn from it. Although much has changed, we must continue to be united as one.

Ira Leigh IV lives in Texas City.

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