New author Jamila Minnicks on the resilience and history of all-Black towns

Person and book cover
Jamila Minnicks’ debut novel, “Moonrise Over New Jessup” shares a fresh perspective on Black people in the American South who flourished during the Civil Rights movement by shying away from integration.
Photo by Samia Minnicks; book cover courtesy of Workman Publishing

Many Americans are unaware that all-Black enclaves popped up and even flourished during the early 20th century. They did so by following the conviction that “separate but equal” was the only way for Black Americans to stay safe and thrive.

But as Jamila Minnicks points out in her gorgeous debut novel, “Moonrise Over New Jessup,” that belief was challenged by the Civil Rights movement, which championed equality more than separation.

It’s a fictionalized account of one such town, set in Minnicks’ native Alabama, and ends up being both a celebration of Black joy and an examination of the opposing viewpoints about the end of segregation in America.

This Friday, on Big Books and Bold Ideas, Minnicks joined host Kerri Miller to talk about the history of all-Black towns, why she wanted to tell their stories and how “separate but equal” was both a gift and a blow.

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