Isabel Wilkerson

American journalist

Isabel Wilkerson (born 1961) is an American journalist and author. She was the first woman of African-American heritage to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.

Isabel Wilkerson in 2011


  • My mission is about reminding us of how much we all have in common and that the experiences and history of people of african descent in this country is not ‘African American History,’ it’s American History. The experiences African Americans have had, for example in the Great Migration is similar to those that other people have had. It’s a way to bridge the gulf in how people see themselves compared to others – which is the source of all divisions – you don’t see yourself in someone else, you have no empathy for someone else whose experience is different from yours…
  • My parents absolutely did not think of themselves as part of the Great Migration. They knew they were part of a great wave. No one really talked about it in those terms or gave it a name. I grew up surrounded by people who were from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia -- all around me. My parents' friends were all from there. They socialized with people from there. They were quite ambitious and competitive among themselves, bragging about that they were going to put their child through Catholic school because that was going to give them a better chance at succeeding…
  • Some of these things seem as if it’s a lot of hard work, and it is. But it’s to an end—toward a richer, deeper understanding of a phenomenon that I was seeking to bring to life…The term narrative comes from Greek for the word knowing. And I think that that’s a powerful message because it means you cannot tell a story until you know the story.
    • On how she hopes The Warmth of Other Suns led to a deeper understanding in “Isabel Wilkerson” in Humanities (Fall 2016)

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