2012-2013 Speakers


Isabel Wilkerson


Author of The Warmth of Other Suns, a National Book Critics Circle Award Winner A New York Times Top 10 Best Book of the Year

November 27, 2012
7 p.m.
University Hall Theater

Co-sponsored by the Charles E. Brown African American Cultural Center and the History department, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the African American Studies Program


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson, brings to life one of the greatest underreported stories of the 20th Century, a migration that reshaped modern America. 

From World War I to the 1970s, some six million black Americans fled the American South for an uncertain existence in the urban North and West. They left all they knew and took a leap of faith that they might find freedom under the Warmth of Other Suns. 

Their leaving became known as the Great Migration. It brought us James Baldwin, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Richard Wright and the forebears of Michelle Obama, Toni Morrison and of most African-Americans in the North and West. It set in motion the civil rights movement and created our cities and art forms.

The Warmth of Other Suns is the story of three who made the journey, of the forces that compelled them to leave and of the many others—famous and not so famous—who went as far as they could to realize the American Dream.

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. Wilkerson has also won the George Polk Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

Wilkerson has spoken on the topics of migration, social justice, urban affairs and 2oth 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 lectured on narrative writing at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and 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. During the Great Migration, her parents journeyed from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington, D.C., where she was born and reared.