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Isabel Wilkerson, former national correspondent and bureau chief at The New York Times and the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, will discuss her new book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Friday, Feb. 18, at 5:30 p.m., in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium of the FedEx Global Education Center.  A book-signing will follow at 6:30 p.m.

Nearly six million black Americans left the American South in the twentieth century, hoping for more freedom in the cities of the northern and western United States. As they sought “the warmth of other suns,” their migration set in motion the civil rights movement and gave rise to artists including James Baldwin, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Richard Wright and others.


Inspired by her own parents’ migration, Wilkerson interviewed more than 1,200 people and conducted research over the course of 15 years. Ultimately, in The Warmth of Other Suns, she focuses on three black migrants, each traveling during a different decade between 1915 and 1970 and each bound for a different destination.  The book was chosen as one The New York Times’ Best Books of 2010.

“Isabel Wilkerson has written a remarkable story about the migration of generations of black men, women and children from the South to other parts of the United States,” said Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at UNC’s public health school. “Through personal stories, we learn what it was like to grow up as a member of a minority community in the South – and what happened to those who left.”

Rimer said she is excited that UNC’s public health and journalism schools and the UNC center focused on the history of the southern United States could join together to co-sponsor Wilkerson’s visit. “Anyone interested in the South, journalism, diversity and disparities will want to hear her speak,” Rimer said.

The event is free and is open to the public, but registration is required.  People can register at:

The event is co-hosted by the University’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Center for the Study of the American South and the Center for Global Initiatives.

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