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Isabel Wilkerson, an esteemed American journalist and author, visited the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University recently to meet with students and present the 2024 Terry Sanford Lecture. Wilkerson rose to prominence with her groundbreaking works of narrative nonfiction and history. Wilkerson received the Pulitzer Prize in 1994, becoming the first woman of African-American heritage to win the award in journalism. Her debut book, "The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration," garnered widespread acclaim. Her latest book, is "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents."

Jillian Foye, MPP '25/JD'25 reflects on Wilkerson's visit to Duke's campus by sharing her own family's story, and her path to public policy.

Student Stories

Reflecting on Visit by Celebrated Writer Isabel Wilkerson

Endowed by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, The Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture is open to the public and the entire Duke University campus. The lecture series intends to promote engaged and enlightened leadership. The lectures are held in honor of the late Terry Sanford, a bold leader who served as North Carolina governor, U.S. senator, president of Duke University, and founder of the Sanford School of Public Policy.

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Recap: Isabel Wilkerson's Duke Visit

Wilkerson’s meticulous research and compelling storytelling were fully displayed as she visited campus. She challenged students and audience members to confront the entrenched hierarchies that perpetuate discrimination and division.

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