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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson to receive
honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree May 17

May 16 symposium on 'Literature for Real: Journalism, the American Canon, and the Evolving American South'

April 30, 2014

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from SMU as part of the University's 99th Commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 17, 2014, in Moody Coliseum.

Isabel Wilkerson
Isabel Wilkerson

While writing for The New York Times, Wilkerson became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism and the first African-American, male or female, to win the Pulitzer for individual reporting. Her award-winning book, The Warmth of Other Suns, is a definitive history of the Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural South to urban centers in the North and West.

For her achievements as a journalist and contributions to understanding of the African-American experience, SMU will confer upon Wilkerson the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Wilkerson will participate in a symposium from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Friday, May 16, in the Pavilion of the Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall, 3101 University Boulevard on the SMU campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The symposium, “Literature for Real: Journalism, the American Canon, and the Evolving American South,” will include keynote speaker Farah Jasmine Griffin, professor of English/Comparative Literature/African American Studies, Columbia University, and author of Who Set You Flowin’? and Harlem Nocturne.

A discussion will include remarks from Wilkerson and feature panelists:

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor of The Atlantic Monthly and author of The Beautiful Struggle
        
  • Brittney Cooper, assistant professor of women’s and gender and Africana studies, Rutgers University, and columnist for Salon.com
        
  • Daina Ramey Berry, associate professor of history, University of Texas at Austin, and author of Swing the Sickle for the Harvest is Ripe
        
  • Walton Muyumba, associate professor of English at the University of North Texas and author of The Shadow and the Act: Black Intellectual Practice, Jazz Improvisation, and Philosophical Pragmatism
        
  • Moderator Karen Thomas, SMU professor of practice in journalism and writer for The Dallas Morning News.

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