WSIU InFocus Segment Archives
Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Isabel Wilkersoninterviewed more than 1,200 people to trace more than a half-century of migration by African Americans from the South for her groundbreaking book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. A former Chicago bureau chief for the New York Times, Wilkerson spent 15 years researching the stories of those who represented the six million African Americans who left the South from World War I to the 1970s.
Random House, publisher of Wilkerson's book, gives this review, "With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties."
The first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism and the first African American to win for individual reporting, Wilkerson was the keynote speaker for Black History Month 2011: The Year of Jubilee at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC). Wilkerson also has won the George S. Polk Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. She discussed her work with the Rev. Dr. Joseph Brown, Director of SIUC's Department of Africana Studies in this program-length WSIU InFocus episode.
Host: Dr. Joseph Brown
Guest(s): Isabel Wilkerson
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