North Central College - Naperville, IL

Award-winning author Isabel Wilkerson gives talk Feb. 29

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Isabel Wilkerson
Isabel Wilkerson

Author and journalist Isabel Wilkerson will discuss her book “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” on Feb. 29 at North Central College. The New York Times and national bestseller follows the story of African-American families leaving the Jim Crow South during the Great Migration.

Wilkerson will speak at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, in North Central College’s theatre at Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth St., Naperville. This event is free and open to the public.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author, Wilkerson spent 15 years interviewing more than 1,200 people to write her award-winning work of narrative nonfiction. It tells the story of three people who made the decision of their lives in what came to be known as the Great Migration, which lasted from 1915 to 1970.

Reviewers have acclaimed it as “a massive and masterly account” (The New York Times Book Review); “a deeply affecting, finely crafted and heroic book” (The New Yorker); and “a brilliant and stirring epic” (The Wall Street Journal).

The Great Migration was one of the biggest underreported stories of the 20th century, historians say. Lasting some 55 years, it involved 6 million people and was one of the largest internal migrations in U.S. history. It changed the country, North and South, and brought us John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Toni Morrison, August Wilson, Bill Russell, Motown, Denzel Washington, Michelle Obama—all children or grandchildren of the Great Migration. Wilkerson’s own parents journeyed from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington, D.C., where she was born and reared.

As a speaker, Wilkerson has addressed the topics of migration, social justice, urban affairs and 20th century history at universities across the country and in Europe. She has appeared on national programs such as CBS’ 60 Minutes, PBS’s Charlie Rose, NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, NBC’s Nightly News, MSNBC, C-SPAN and others.

She has served as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and as the James M. Cox Jr. Professor at Emory University. She is currently professor of journalism and director of narrative nonfiction at Boston University.

Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times in 1994, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to win for individual reporting in the history of American journalism. She also won a George Polk Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her research into the Great Migration, and she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

This program is hosted by North Central College’s Cultural Events program. Nicor and Sara Lee are co-sponsors of this and other Black History Month events at North Central.

Photo by Joe Henson