Isabel Wilkerson to Speak at Commencement

Isabel Wilkerson will speak at commencement in May 2018.

Isabel Wilkerson will speak at commencement in May 2018.


Isabel Wilkerson, bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, will deliver the 2018 Middlebury College commencement address, which will take place on Sunday, May 27.

Wilkerson won her Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for her work as the Chicago bureau chief for The New York Times. She is the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African American to win for individual reporting.

Wilkerson’s bestselling book, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” tells the story of the Great Migration, in which millions of African Americans left the Jim Crow South seeking employment in other regions of the United States. The Great Migration was one of the most significant events of the 20th century and was one of the largest internal migrations in the history of the United States.

“The Warmth of Other Suns” was published in 2010, ater Wilkerson spent 15 years conducting interviews with over 1,200 people. The book has won several prizes, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was included in over 30 best-of-the-year lists.

Wilkerson has taught at Emory, Princeton and Columbia, among other universities. At the commencement ceremony, she will be receiving an honorary doctor of letters degree.

Wilkerson is the first woman to be giving the commencement address since writer and Middlebury alumna Julia Alvarez delivered the address in 2015. Other former speakers include President Bill Clinton in 2007, New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 2005 and television personality Fred Rogers in 2001.