Pulitzer Prize winner to speak at ASU on American South's Great Migration

Isabel Wilkerson, author of New York Times best seller “The Warmth of Other Suns," to visit ASU for A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture

Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson, author of "The Warmth of Other Suns," will speak on Arizona State University's Tempe campus at 7 p.m. April 3.


From 1915 to 1970, 6 million African-American people migrated out of the American South, forever changing the culture and politics of the United States. Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson brought the story of the Great Migration to life in her New York Times’ best-selling book, “The Warmth of Other Suns."

Now, she’s bringing the story to Arizona State University.

On April 3, Wilkerson will be featured in the 23rd annual A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations.

The Warmth of Other Suns” is based on interviews with 1,200 people who participated in the migration and showcases one of the greatest underreported stories in American history. It tells the story of how the northern cities came to be, of the music and culture that might not have existed had the people not left, and of the courageous souls who dared to leave everything they knew for the hope of something better.

“We are grateful to have author Isabel Wilkerson attend this year’s A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture and share her extensive research on the Great Migration,” said Patrick J. Kenney, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “It is an important story, one that we’re glad to have shared with the ASU and local community.”

Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago bureau chief of The New York Times in 1994, making her the first African-American woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to win for individual reporting. Wilkerson has also won the George Polk Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

The A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations was created in 1995 to perpetuate the work of a man who had devoted his life to the idea of racial parity. As professor and chair of sociology at ASU, A. Wade Smith worked tirelessly to improve race relations on the ASU campus and within the greater community.

When he died from cancer at the age of 43, his wife, family members and friends made memorial gifts to establish and fund this lecture series.

A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture

When: 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Where: Old Main, Carson Ballroom, ASU Tempe campus

Admission: Free and open to the public. Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

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