The Warmth of Other Suns

The Warmth of Other Suns

by

Isabel Wilkerson

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Jim Crow laws were the policies in the South that established racial segregation and restricted Black citizens’ civil rights (especially with respect to voting) from the 1870s until the late 1960s and early 1970s. The name “Jim Crow” comes from a racist blackface minstrel show commonly performed in the early 1800s.

Jim Crow Quotes in The Warmth of Other Suns

The The Warmth of Other Suns quotes below are all either spoken by Jim Crow or refer to Jim Crow. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
).
Part Two: A Burdensome Labor Quotes

Above her was an entire economy she could not see but which ruled her days and determined the contours of her life. There were bankers, planters, merchants, warehouse clerks, fertilizer wholesalers, seed sellers, plow makers, mule dealers, gin owners. A good crop and a high price made not much improvement to the material discomforts of Ida Mae’s existence but meant a planter’s wife could “begin to dream of a new parlor carpet and a piano.” […] On Wall Street, there were futures and commodities traders wagering on what the cotton she had yet to pick might go for next October. There were businessmen in Chicago needing oxford shirts, socialites in New York and Philadelphia wanting lace curtains and organdy evening gowns. Closer to home, closer than one dared to contemplate, there were Klansmen needing their white cotton robes and hoods.

Related Characters: Isabel Wilkerson (speaker), Ida Mae Brandon Gladney
Related Symbols: Cotton
Page Number: 97-98
Explanation and Analysis:
Part Two: The Awakening Quotes

Thousands of colored soldiers had preceded him overseas during the two great wars—more than a million in World War II alone—and that service had been a defining experience for many of them. They were forced into segregated units and often given the most menial tasks or the most dangerous infantry tours. But they also experienced relief from Jim Crow in those European villages, were recognized as liberating Americans rather than lower-caste colored men, and felt pride in what their uniform represented.

They returned home to a Jim Crow South that expected them to go back to the servile position they left. Most resented it and wanted to be honored for risking their lives for their country rather than attacked for being uppity. Some survived the war only to lose their lives to Jim Crow.

Related Characters: Isabel Wilkerson (speaker), Robert Joseph Pershing Foster
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:
Part Three: Crossing Over Quotes

“I came all this way running from Jim Crow, and it slaps me straight in the face,” Robert said. “And just think, I told my friends, why did they stay in the South and take the crumbs? ‘Come to California.’”

Related Characters: Robert Joseph Pershing Foster (speaker)
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:
Part Four: The Other Side of Jordan Quotes

Overall, however, what was becoming clear was that, north or south, wherever colored labor was introduced, a rivalrous sense of unease and insecurity washed over the working-class people who were already there, an unease that was economically not without merit but rose to near hysteria when race and xenophobia were added to preexisting fears. The reality was that Jim Crow filtered through the economy, north and south, and pressed down on poor and working-class people of all races. The southern caste system that held down the wages of colored people also undercut the earning power of the whites around them, who could not command higher pay as long as colored people were forced to accept subsistence wages.

Page Number: 317
Explanation and Analysis:
Part Four: Revolutions Quotes

Yet the very thing that made black life hard in the North, the very nature of northern hostility—unwritten, mercurial, opaque, and eminently deniable—made it hard for King to nail down an obvious right-versus-wrong cause to protest.

Page Number: 386
Explanation and Analysis:
Part Five: The Emancipation of Ida Mae Quotes

We cross a gravel road with cotton on either side of it. “That cotton’s loaded,” Ida Mae said, her eyes growing big. “Let’s go pick some.”

“You sure that’s alright?” I ask. “That’s somebody’s cotton. What if they see us?”

“They not gon’ mind what little bit we pick,” she says, pushing open the passenger door.

She jumps out and heads into the field. She hasn’t picked cotton in sixty years. It’s as if she can’t wait to pick it now that she doesn’t have to. It’s the first time in her life that she can pick cotton of her own free will.

Related Characters: Isabel Wilkerson (speaker), Ida Mae Brandon Gladney (speaker)
Related Symbols: Cotton
Page Number: 517
Explanation and Analysis:
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Jim Crow Term Timeline in The Warmth of Other Suns

The timeline below shows where the term Jim Crow appears in The Warmth of Other Suns. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part One: The Great Migration, 1915–1970
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
Specifically, migrants choose to trade the South’s Jim Crow caste system for greater freedoms and higher wages elsewhere. But, like the European immigrants who... (full context)
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
...universal and distinctly American” because they responded to the uniquely American history of slavery and Jim Crow by turning to the same solution that humans have chosen for centuries: migrating in search... (full context)
Part Two: The Stirrings of Discontent
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...pass discriminatory laws to restrict Black people’s rights and enforce racial segregation. They are called Jim Crow laws, named after a popular blackface routine from the 1800s. Southern states segregate transportation, workplaces,... (full context)
Part Two: George Swanson Starling
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
...quickest to secede during the Civil War, and one of the first to pass severe Jim Crow laws after it ended. Lynching and mob violence are common there—in fact, the highest-profile lynching... (full context)
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
...fully understands the threat of lynching and reluctantly learns to follow the absurd rules of Jim Crow . The racial caste system turns cruelty into a social norm. For instance, the preacher... (full context)
Part Two: Robert Joseph Pershing Foster
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...their old churches, and tell their relatives about the North, where there’s no segregation or Jim Crow . For instance, a woman named Francie Elie returns home to Mississippi from Ohio and... (full context)
Part Two: A Burdensome Labor
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
...professionals, who have built a thriving community. For the first time, Pershing feels free from Jim Crow . He joins the choir and becomes well-known around campus for his exquisite voice. (full context)
Part Two: The Awakening
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...in Georgia for daring to wear his army uniform around town. But Pershing doesn’t escape Jim Crow in Europe. His commanding officer, a white man from Mississippi, doesn’t let him treat white... (full context)
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...groves, dozens of miles from town. He knows that, as a Black man in the Jim Crow South, he could face far worse. The Florida police have started arresting Black men, assessing... (full context)
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...and Pershing all leave the South for different personal reasons related to the violence of Jim Crow . Limited numbers of Black people had been migrating north for centuries, but the World... (full context)
Part Two: Breaking Away
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...Monroe, which means doing medicine with limited resources and foregoing certain luxuries to comply with Jim Crow . For instance, he just doesn’t go to stores and theaters because they’re segregated. But... (full context)
Part Three: The Appointed Time of Their Coming
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...be joining her sister and her husband’s family in Wisconsin. The family boards the train’s Jim Crow car and departs. (full context)
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
...1937. Ida Mae and her family barrel north through the night on the train. The Jim Crow car is crowded and uncomfortable, and Black passengers have to bring their own food because... (full context)
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
...which is on not just the U.S.-Mexico border, but also “the unspoken border between the Jim Crow South and the free Southwest.” Train passengers can switch seats and desegregate themselves as soon... (full context)
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...he reaches an integrated hotel four hours into New Mexico. Whenever they travel during the Jim Crow era, Black people have to seek out safe houses like this one—which they learn about... (full context)
Part Three: Crossing Over
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...a gas station, he breaks into tears to the kind owner—he thought he was escaping Jim Crow , but maybe he isn’t. The owner comforts him but admits that “Los Angeles ain’t... (full context)
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...in reality, migrants were just making an informed decision to find better work and escape Jim Crow . And contrary to most predictions, Black migration to the North and West dramatically increased... (full context)
Part Four: To Bend in Strange Winds
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
...the city. But they also recognize that the new migrants have finally broken free from Jim Crow , and many do their best to help. For instance, The Chicago Defender and Chicago... (full context)
Part Four: The Prodigals
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
...to their family and culture. But often, these children don’t know how to deal with Jim Crow . (full context)
Part Four: Revolutions
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
...face in the North. However, fighting informal racism is much more complicated than simply overturning Jim Crow laws: the adversary is not blatant segregation, but rather “the ill-defined fear and antipathy” that... (full context)
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...he asks them to keep everything confidential. But many passengers don’t understand, go to the Jim Crow car out of fear, or get angry at George. Yet nobody ever turns him in,... (full context)
Part Four: The Fullness of the Migration
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...1970. Demographers declare the Great Migration over. The civil rights movement has all but ended Jim Crow , and fewer Black people are migrating to the North. Some are even returning to... (full context)
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...groves. And he wonders how his life would have been different if it weren’t for Jim Crow . He pleads with the young people around him to make better choices. (full context)
Part Five: In the Places They Left
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Economics of Racism Theme Icon
...his family in McCall’s jurisdiction. McCall survives 49 misconduct investigations and doesn’t take down the Jim Crow “COLORED” signs until 1971. The next year, he finally loses reelection after kicking a Black... (full context)
Part Five: Redemption
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
Decision, Consequence, and Regret Theme Icon
...collard greens, and more. The club members chat about their old acquaintances, their experiences under Jim Crow , and how things have changed in Monroe. One man remembers the segregated Paramount Theater... (full context)
Part Five: Epilogue
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
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The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
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...matter their level of education, and contributed to the civil rights movement that finally ended Jim Crow . (full context)
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The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
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Scholars have also long debated how much factors like Jim Crow , lynching, the boll weevil pest crisis, and new cotton harvesting machines influenced migrants’ decisions.... (full context)