BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘Wandering In Strange Lands’ by Morgan Jenkins

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, host of the long-running Book Stew, a video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, authors, playwrights, and even a cat who survived a tornado and wrote a book about it:

‘Wandering In Strange Lands’ by Morgan Jenkins

Morgan Jenkins’ second book is a riveting exploration of her family roots. Her journey takes her first to the Low Country of S. Carolina and Georgia, the Gullah Geechee islands where the first enslaved people landed, now stolen acres dominated by wealthy white landowners. There, Jenkins learns about the medicinal roots and herbs that saved lives when no medical professionals served Black people. Next, to Louisiana and her Creole ancestors, the gens de couleur libre, free people of color, who ended up travelling with exiled Native Americans and becoming freedmen in Oklahoma. The law called the Dawes Rolls determined which of the Native tribespeople received land allotments, and if you were judged as more Black than Native and listed as such on the Rolls, you were denied tribal membership and the benefits of its privileges. Her last stop is LA, as some of her family had moved West for opportunities that again eluded Black people due to the virulent racism that was pervasive through the Rodney King area and has resulted in Blacks recently leaving California in large numbers. Jenkins’ writing is scholarly yet folksy as she shares the delight and pain of her family members and the incredible knowledge gained from helpful strangers in each locale. It’s a fruitful combination of travelogue and history lesson.

Quotes: ” We had to move to save our families, move to get better jobs and earn money, or move because we had this unwavering belief, despite endless oppression, that there was a different type of beauty to be found in another zip code.”

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