Director, Narrative Nonfiction
Isabel Wilkerson, as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times, won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for her coverage of the historic floods in the Midwest and for her profile of a ten-year-old boy growing up with a man’s obligations on the South Side of Chicago. The award made her the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism and the first black American to win for individual reporting in the history of the prizes. She also won the George Polk Award for her coverage of the Midwest and was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.
Wilkerson spent most of her journalism career at The Times, and her work has been widely anthologized. She has come to be known for nonfiction narratives that combine the disciplines of journalism and ethnography. She has written extensively on issues of social policy and the human condition, as well as on major stories of the day, such as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the challenges of upward mobility for the Times’ 2005 series and book, Class in America.
She has lectured on narrative nonfiction at universities, at newspapers and at professional writing workshops throughout the country, in Canada and in Denmark and has conducted narrative writing seminars at the Neiman Foundation at Harvard University. At the university level, she has served as the James M. Cox Professor at Emory University, as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and as the Kreeger-Wolf endowed lecturer at Northwestern University. She also served as a board member of the National Arts in Journalism Program at Columbia University.
The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation awarded her a fellowship to advance the research for her book, The Warmth of Other Suns. Published by Random House in September 2010, the book is a work of narrative nonfiction about the migration of African-Americans from the rural and small-town South to the urban North and West during most of the twentieth century. The book tells the story of threee who made the journey and is the first major work to chronicle the migration on a national scale. It won the National Book Critics Circle for Nonfiction and the NAACP Nonfiction Award for a Debut Writer.
BA, Howard University