November 11, 2020 8:36 AM EST

Morgan Jerkins’ family history seems to span much of the United States: first, in American Slavery in the South, and then stretched across the East, the Midwest and the West, as six million Black Americans sought better opportunities elsewhere in the Great Migration between 1916 and 1970, her family among them. Seeking to understand her own identity today, Jerkins traveled the country, interviewing historians and activists to search for the larger traditions, myths and histories that shaped her ancestors and, now, her culture. In doing so, she redefines the meaning of a personal history, and reclaims that which white supremacy sought to divide, conquer and erase.

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