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Presidential Lecture Series

Supplemental resources for the Presidential Lecture Series.

A banner with a dark blue background features text in light blue "Presidential Lecture Series." On the left of the text is the Creighton University Seal in color.

“Many people may rightly say, “I had nothing to do with how this all started. I have nothing to do with the sins of the past. My ancestors never attacked indigenous people, never owned slaves.” And, yes. Not one of us was here when this house was built. Our immediate ancestors may have had nothing to do with it, but here we are, the current occupants of a property with stress cracks and bowed walls and fissures built into the foundation. We are the heirs to whatever is right or wrong with it. We did not erect the uneven pillars or joists, but they are ours to deal with now.”
― Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

About the Speaker: Isabel Wilkerson

A headshot of Isabel Wilkerson in full color depicts a smiling woman in a black dress, a strand of white pearls, and red earrings with her arms crossed against a brown-grey background.Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, has become a leading figure in narrative nonfiction, an interpreter of the human condition, and an impassioned voice for demonstrating how history can help us understand ourselves, our country, and our current era of upheaval. Through her writing, Wilkerson brings the invisible and the marginalized into the light and into our hearts. Through her lectures, she explores with authority the need to reconcile America’s karmic inheritance and the origins of both our divisions and our shared commonality.

She is a native of Washington, D.C., and a daughter of the Great Migration, the mass movement that she would go on to write about. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1994, as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times, making her the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. She then devoted fifteen years and interviewed more than 1,200 people to tell the story of the six million people, among them her parents, who defected from the Jim Crow South.

Isabel Wilkerson: The Event

“Those of us who value history, those of us who feel that things can be learned from history … We can continue to do the reading and the research and work on ourselves. We can talk to others and hope to influence those and encourage those and help those in our sphere of influence.” 

Isabel Wilkerson concluded the Creighton Presidential Lecture Series with a call to action. Read a recap article on Wilkerson's lecture. 

Discover More at the Creighton University Libraries: Isabel Wilkerson

Recommended Articles & Resources

McGill, N. (2014). Q&A: Annual Meeting keynoter Isabel Wilkerson: Geography plays important role in health equity. Nation’s Health, 44(6), 9–9.

‘Sway.’ (2021, January 21). Opinion | America’s Caste System Is 400 Years Old. That Doesn’t Change Overnight. The New York Times.

Wilkerson, I. (2020, July 1). America’s Enduring Caste System. The New York Times.

Wilkerson, I. (2020, July 28). America’s “untouchables”: The silent power of the caste system. The Guardian.

Wilkerson, I. (2012). Race to the Bottom. New Republic243(3), 10–11.


Related Research Guides

Isabel Wilkerson as Author

Apple TV+ Podcast Series on Caste