Search for Ancestral Roots in Morgan Jerkins’s Wandering in Strange Lands

Rashad Mohammed Moqbel Al Areqih


Many African Americans seek to unravel their history and ancestral roots, much of which was lost during the Great Migration that took place between 1916 and 1970. Morgan Jerkins’s Wandering in Strange Lands (2020) explores the history and the ancestral roots of the Jerkins family, along both the paternal and maternal lineages. Written as a memoir, rather than a historical or genealogical report, the narrative is supported by documents, records, transcripts, photos and interviews conducted by Jerkins herself. Her research uncovers the stories of other African-Americans and their native identity that sheds more light on Jerkins’s own roots, as well as the traditions of Blacks in general. Using a postcolonial lens, themes of migration, dislocation, ethnicity, marginality, Creole identity and diaspora are examined not only from the historical and genealogical viewpoint of the Jerkins family, but also from the perspective of the major groups of the Great Migration, who left the American South for other cities. Eventually, Jerkins’s arduous journey uncovers her family’s hidden past, a heritage that has been influenced by the Great Migration and the displacement of African-Americans leaving hard life conditions in search of better job opportunities in the Northeast, the Midwest, and the West Coast, in particular. The Great Migration was an attempt by Blacks to release themselves from the shackles of the oppression of White supremacy. Jerkins manages to find her heritage—language, rituals, beliefs, symbols and traditions intertwined with superstitions—and she is able to connect with her tribal roots and legacy.

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World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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