Today, I am featuring author, Rita Felton-Mitchell. She has answered questions about her book called Movin’ Up North which focuses on the historic Great Migration.
Tell us about your book, Movin’ Up’ North.
This book is a dedication to all of the brave people who decided to make that journey to a “new land” in search of better opportunities for themselves and their offspring. The impact that they made on the cities and towns that they migrated to are phenomenal and need to be known and appreciated. The Great Migration in many respects is equivalent to and just as important to this country as the immigration of the early 1900s.
Our family moved from the South to Chicago during those historic years. I found your book to be very timely and it reminded me of our family’s stories. Why did you think it was an important story to share?
From my experience as an elementary school teacher to predominantly Black students, I observed that many did not know how significant the Great Migration was to American history and particularly to the personal connection to their background.
Who is your prime audience?
Young people ages 5-9
How can this story be beneficial to the younger generations?
I believe this story imparts a vital sense of pride to younger generations and can serve as a motivator to take advantage of every opportunity afforded them with an understanding that those before them made sacrifices in order for them to do so.
Why was Chicago called the Promised Land for those in the South?
Chicago afforded many oppressed Blacks opportunities that the South simply would not. Basic opportunities such as voting privileges, better jobs, and a decent education.
Tell us about Uncle George and his stylish clothes. What type of work did he do in Chicago?
Uncle George had migrated to Chicago and would frequently visit his family “down South” sporting his fine clothes in hopes of enticing relatives to join him in the Promised Land. In the book, he eventually opens up a shoe store, which could rarely be done during those times in the South by a man of color.
Where did your family open their first store? Is it still there?
Actually, my father’s uncles opened a small corner grocery. I believe it was located near 55th and State Street. It’s not there presently. The uncles migrated from Mississippi in the early 1900s.
How do you think Velma felt as she boarded the train in route to Chicago?
Velma, who had never traveled anywhere prior to moving up North, must have been anxious yet thrilled to be going to a place that offered such promise.
Do you visit schools or conduct readings in the Chicagoland area? If so, how would those interested reach you?
I do a limited amount of school visits in the Chicagoland area. Interested educators can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rita Felton-Mitchell is an educator and library media specialist. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters.
September 10, 2015