Heirs of The Great Migration : How the Past Became the Future

Heirs of the Great Migration is a narrative biography grounded in Dr. James “Manny” Wright’s family migration from Jim Crow-era sharecropping in North Carolina to manufacturing jobs in the industrial Northeast. Wright frames his generation— Generation X (1964-1981) as inheritors of the aspirations of their ancestors and the first Blackamerican generation granted full citizenship and rights under the US Constitution. Consequently, Heirs of the Great Migration is narrated from the eyes of Wright coming of age at the intersection of deindustrialization and the crack-cocaine epidemic (which sparked the 1994 Crime Bill and mass incarceration, e.g., The New Jim Crow). Caught in the dragnet of the Crime Bill, at a young age Wright was convicted on trumped-up charges and imprisoned. Now, a professor with an MBA and PhD, he reflects on overcoming historically rooted sociopolitical and socioeconomic structures, educational obstacles, and legal setbacks he faced that mirror the ways his family’s past had become the future.