Every Black History Month, you learn something you didn’t know before, from the struggles of slavery, to the overwhelming contributions African Americans have made to the world. Historian, advocate, activist and public speaker Blair Imani is shedding light on another moment in Black history with her new book “Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and The Black American Dream.” Imani wants the Black community to be aware of their history and hopes this book is another tool used to build a better future.
“We didn’t just fall off the face of the earth tying the time between Enslavement and the Civil Rights Movement,” said Imani. “I want to help young people know where we have been and thus where we are going.
“I also wanted to honor the experiences of our elders who lived the history I can only read about.”
Originally from Pasadena, CA, Imani earned a history degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She grew up in San Marino where she recounted no one looking like her, but her family fed her positive reinforcement.
“Throughout my childhood, my family always taught me the importance of respect and communication,” said Imani. “I was fortunate to have an open and healthy environment where I have always been encouraged to speak up.”
She remembers how the experience of going with her sister Chelsea to her speech therapy helped her to find something important about herself.
“I found my own voice as she found hers,” said Imani. “In 2005, I received an award from my elementary school for public speaking and today I’m a public speaker in addition to being a historian.”
“Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and The Black American Dream” was in progress after her first book and Imani had taken full advantage of the opportunities her publisher Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, had afforded her. Her book takes a look at the Great Migration from multiple angles and through a personal lens as well.
“The book covers all eras from 1870 to 1979 with an emphasis on the Great Migration and the laws and policies that influenced our community,” said Imani. “I do not shy away from the more difficult parts of our history and I made sure to enlist an excellent illustrator, Rachelle Baker, who brought these faces and places to life.”
Imani also shared that her book also touches on Japanese internment, Jewish refugees, LGBTQ, disability, and women’s liberation.
“Black people have never been exclusive in our fight for freedom and we should not be exclusive in our history telling,” said Imani. Making Our Way Home also includes a foreword from Patrisse Cullors, who is the founder of Black Lives Matter.
When asked what she hoped to accomplish with her book, Imani shared, “One of the many things I hope to accomplish with this book is to rectify the Whitewashed-American history fed to our children under the current U.S. public school curriculum.
She continued, “I [would] like this book [to] be used in schools from fifth grade on up as a primer on the Black American experience and as a complement to less robust discussions of our histories in the current landscape of U.S. public school curriculum.”
Imani is currently on a book tour promoting “Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and The Black American Dream.” She shared some of her experiences talking about her book and the gratification she gets out of talking to youth about the book.
“This book tour has been the most incredible time, though traveling has definitely been a mission,” said Imani. “I recently spoke at an elementary school in Houston, which was amazing!
“I find that speaking to young people is a great way to keep me going and to inspire countless young historians along the way.”
“Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and The Black American Dream” book tour will be arriving in Los Angeles Thursday, February 20 at the Los Angeles Public Library. Please visit www.blairimani.com for more information.
“I have plenty of stops left on my book tour and you can find me in a city near you,” said Imani.