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Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots is a timely and enthralling look at America’s past and present, one family’s legacy, and a young black woman’s life, filtered through her sharp and curious eyes.
“A thrilling, emotional, and engaging ride that almost commands the reader to turn the page, Wandering in Strange Lands is required reading, accurately widening the lens of American history.” –Booklist (starred review)
Between 1916 and 1970, six million black Americans left their rural homes in the South for jobs in cities in the North, West, and Midwest in a movement known as The Great Migration. But while this event transformed the complexion of America and provided black people with new economic opportunities, it also disconnected them from their roots, their land, and their sense of identity, argues Morgan Jerkins. In this fascinating and deeply personal exploration, she recreates her ancestors’ journeys across America, following the migratory routes they took from Georgia and South Carolina to Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California.
Following in their footsteps, Jerkins seeks to understand not only her own past, but the lineage of an entire group of people who have been displaced, disenfranchised, and disrespected throughout our history. Through interviews, photos, and hundreds of pages of transcription, Jerkins braids the loose threads of her family’s oral histories, which she was able to trace back 300 years, with the insights and recollections of black people she met along the way—the tissue of black myths, customs, and blood that connect the bones of American history.
Morgan Jerkins is the New York Times bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America, which was longlisted for PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and Wandering In Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots. Her third book, Caul Baby: A Novel, is forthcoming from Harper Books in April 2021.
Jerkins is a former Associate Editor at Catapult, has taught at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, Bennington College, and Leipzig University. Her short form work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, ELLE, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and Esquire, among many others.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Princeton University and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Born and raised in Southern New Jersey, she’s now based in Harlem where she’s currently developing TV and film projects.
Julie Scelfo is a journalist, author and justice advocate who helps people discover the forces that help shape human thinking. Previously, Scelfo was a staff writer for The New York Times, and a Correspondent at Newsweek where she covered breaking news. Scelfo is the author of The Women Who Made New York, a collection of intersectional biographies that reveal how it was women — and not just men — who built one of the world’s greatest cities.
Scelfo earned a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University, and a Master’s degree in Media Ecology from New York University. She lives in New York City, is a frequent public speaker and has made numerous appearances on television, radio and podcasts.
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