Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist, Author Isabel Wilkerson at Open VISIONS Forum
Fairfield University’s signature lecture series, Open VISIONS Forum, presents “An Evening with Isabel Wilkerson” with best-selling author Isabel Wilkerson, the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism, at 8 p.m., Tuesday, February 11, 2014, at Fairfield University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. In her presentation, Ms. Wilkerson will discuss “The Warmth of Other Suns,” her award-winning work of narrative nonfiction that tells the epic story of three people who made the decision of their lives in what came to be known as the Great Migration. “The Warmth of Other Suns” became a national best-selling book, a National Book Critics Circle Award Winner and a New York Times, USA Today, and Oprah Magazine Top 10 Best Book of the Year winner.
Introducing Isabel Wilkerson will be Fairfield University student Janice Herbert ’15. Following Ms. Wilkerson’s presentation, there will be an informal conversation and discussion with Yohuru Williams, Ph.D, Chair Department of History and Director of Black Studies, Elizabeth Hohl, Ph.D, history lecturer, and Philip Eliasoph, Ph.D, professor of art history and founder/moderator of Open VISIONS Forum. This program is made possible in part by the generous support of Sheaffer, CT Humanities, and Pequot Library. Moffly Media is the exclusive magazine sponsor for the 2013-14 Open VISIONS Forum series. Single tickets are $45.
“Isabel Wilkerson is a phenomenal writer. Despite the historical nature of this work, it has important implications for our present moment. I am excited that she will be able to share her perspective on how the events covered in this engrossing work have impacted contemporary politics and culture,” said Yohuru Williams, Ph.D. “Professor Wilkerson combined the latest scholarship with first person narrative research to produce an unforgettable history,” said Elizabeth Hohl, Ph.D. “Her book provides fresh insights into 20th century America and vividly conveys the lives of the people who left their homes for the promise of greater freedom and changed our history."
Isabel Wilkerson is a gifted writer and passionate speaker who has addressed the topics of migration, social justice, urban affairs and 20th Century history at universities across the country and in Europe. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her writings 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 won for her pieces on the rural heartache of the Midwest floods and her profile of a ten–year–old boy growing up with a man’s obligations on the South Side of Chicago.
To write “The Warmth of Other Suns,” Isabel Wilkerson spent 15 years interviewing more than 1,200 people, and in her research, raced against the clock to reach as many original migrants as she could before it was too late. The result is what the judges of the Lynton History Prize, conferred by Columbia and Harvard Universities, described thusly: “Wilkerson has created a brilliant and innovative paradox: the intimate epic. . . In powerful, lyrical prose that combines the historian’s rigor with the novelist’s empathy, Wilkerson’s book changes our understanding of the Great Migration and indeed of the modern United States.” The Great Migration was one of the biggest underreported stories of the 20th Century. It lasted from 1915 to 1970, involved six million people relocating from the rural South to cities in the North, Midwest and West, and was one of the largest internal migrations in U.S. history. It changed the cultural and political landscape of the United States, exerting pressure on the South to change and paving the way toward equal rights for the lowest caste people in the country. During the Great Migration, Wilkerson’s own parents journeyed from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington, D.C., where she was born and raised.
“The Warmth of Other Suns” became a New York Times and national bestseller. It won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Horace Mann Bond Book Award from Harvard University, and the NAACP Image Award for Best Literary Debut. It was named to Best of the Year lists in The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Economist, The Seattle Times, The San Francisco Examiner, Newsday, Salon, The Daily Beast, The Christian Science Monitor, O Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Entertainment Weekly and a dozen others. The San Francisco Chronicle writes: “Not since Alex Haley’s ‘Roots’ has there been a history of equal literary quality where the writing surmounts the rhythmic soul of fiction, where the writer’s voice sings a song of redemptive glory as true as Faulkner’s southern cantatas.”
Isabel Wilkerson 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 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. 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.
Tickets are available through the Quick Center Box Office: (203) 254-4010, or toll-free 1-877-ARTS-396. (1-877-278-7396). Tickets can also be purchased online at www.quickcenter.com.