Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author, will deliver the Belle McWilliams Lecture in American History at the University of Memphis on Thursday evening.
The first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, Wilkerson will speak during an event that begins with a reception at Rose Theatre at 6 p.m. Her lecture is set for 6:30 p.m.
In her book, "The Warmth of Other Suns," Wilkerson describes one of the great under-reported stories of twentieth-century American history: the "Great Migration" of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North. She tells 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 has created a brilliant and innovative paradox: the intimate epic. At its smallest scale, this towering work rests on a trio of unforgettable biographies, lives as humble as they were heroic," write the judges of the Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia Universities.
"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."
A former correspondent for the New York Times, Wilkerson conducted over 1200 interviews over 15 years for "The Warmth of Other Suns." It has won over ten major literary prizes, including the National Book Critics' Circle Award for Nonfiction, and has been named to over thirty periodicals' lists for "Best Books of the Year."
Wilkerson's lecture is made possible by the Department of History, the Program in African and African-American Studies, the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change, the Department of English, the Center for Research on Women, the Department of Journalism, and Facing History and Ourselves.