many stories that have yet to be told,” Wilkerson said. “It should go without saying that we need as many diverse journalists as we can have to tell the story fully and truthfully. It’s not an option. It’s a requirement.”
Because of her fidelity to telling the story of the Great Migration and perseverance as a minority journalist, Wilkerson gave a keynote address at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference hosted by the University of North Texas in Grapevine, Texas, where she discussed the art of choosing protagonists.
Neil Foote, a senior lecturer at the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas, said Wilkerson has stood above the obstacles of working as a Black female journalist and has let her work speak for itself.
“We need more diverse journalists to be able to share their stories and experiences,” Foote added. “There are so few people who look like her in white newsrooms, but she hasn’t let that hold her back. She has stood above challenges by her work alone.”
Hurdles don’t constrain Wilkerson or the stories she tells. The writer says she can’t even pinpoint difficulties throughout her career because focusing on them is a distraction from the real people who have real stories to tell.
“I feel the Great Migration connects us to one another, and we find that we have so much more in common than we’ve been led to believe,” Wilkerson said. “We are the products of that sacrifice that someone had to make.”