Pulitzer Prize-winning author to speak at Centre College

November 08, 2004

Centre College Humana Visiting Professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Diane McWhorter will give a public lecture titled "The Last White Witness to Segregation: Dealing with the Collective Amnesia about the Civil Rights Era" at 7 p.m. Tuesday in room 101 of Young Hall.

McWhorter will lecture from her own experience growing up under segregation in Alabama.

In 2002, McWhorter won the Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction for "Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution."

"Carry Me Home" is a 600-page personal documentary of the cataclysmic events that took place in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963 - where the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and the death of three innocent girls stands as the turning point in the Civil Rights Movement and the moment when Birmingham rose to the nation's conscience.

McWhorter grew up in Birmingham within a prominent family. These connections gave her special insights into the resistance that many whites mounted against the civil rights struggle.


"Carry Me Home" details the collusion that often occurred between members of the city's industrial and professional elite and the rough men who carried out the bombings and beatings of black activists.

Conducting hundreds of interviews, McWhorter spent 19 years writing the book and researching archives, especially those of local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Considered one of the most important books on the civil rights movement, "Carry Me Home" has been called "The War and Peace of the civil rights movement." The book was one of Time Magazine's "Ten Best Books of the Year," and it was named as a New York Times "Notable Book" and a Los Angeles Times "Best Book of the Year." The book also won the Southern Book Critics Circle Award.

Scholastic, a publisher and distributor of children's books, has recently published Diane McWhorter's first book for young readers titled "A Dream of Freedom," a history of the civil rights movement in America. "A Dream of Freedom" tells the story of the modern civil rights movement for young readers, a history of the momentous years between 1954 (Brown vs. the Board of Education) and 1968 (the death of Martin Luther King Jr.).

A journalist who contributes regularly to The New York Times and the op-ed page of USA Today, McWhorter's writing on race, politics and other social topics have appeared in magazines and newspapers including Harper's, The Nation, The New Republic, People, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

McWhorter graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in comparative literature, and she resides in New York City.

The Centre Humana Visiting Professor program, funded by an endowment from the Humana Foundation, allows Centre to invite leading scholars to campus each year to directly share in the lives of students and faculty. During her three-day stay, McWhorter will be visiting classes and meeting students at Centre and in the Danville community.

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