Virtual Leon Jett Memorial Lecture: Morgan Jerkins

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Virtual Leon Jett Memorial Lecture: Morgan Jerkins

August 14 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Virtual Event (Zoom)

Cost: Free

Join us for our annual Leon Jett Memorial Lecture to meet author Morgan Jerkins and discuss her book Wandering in Strange Lands.

About the Guest Speaker:
Morgan Jerkins is the New York Times bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America, which was longlisted for PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay and a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, and Wandering In Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots. Her third book, Caul Baby: A Novel, was released by Harper Books in April 2021. She holds a BA in Comparative Literature from Princeton University and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. A recently named Forbes 30 under 30 Leader in Media and a 2021 ASME Next Award winner, Jerkins regularly teaches at Columbia University’s School of the Arts in the Nonfiction department. Born and raised in Southern New Jersey, she’s currently based in Harlem and at work on television and film projects.

About the Book:
From the acclaimed cultural critic and New York Times bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing—a writer whom Roxane Gay has hailed as “a force to be reckoned with”—comes this powerful story of her journey to understand her northern and southern roots, the Great Migration, and the displacement of black people across America.

Between 1916 and 1970, six million black Americans left their rural homes in the South for jobs in cities in the North, West, and Midwest in a movement known as The Great Migration. But while this event transformed the complexion of America and provided black people with new economic opportunities, it also disconnected them from their roots, their land, and their sense of identity, argues Morgan Jerkins. In this fascinating and deeply personal exploration, she recreates her ancestors’ journeys across America, following the migratory routes they took from Georgia and South Carolina to Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California.

Following in their footsteps, Jerkins seeks to understand not only her own past, but the lineage of an entire group of people who have been displaced, disenfranchised, and disrespected throughout our history. Through interviews, photos, and hundreds of pages of transcription, Jerkins braids the loose threads of her family’s oral histories, which she was able to trace back 300 years, with the insights and recollections of black people she met along the way—the tissue of black myths, customs, and blood that connect the bones of American history.

Incisive and illuminating, Wandering in Strange Lands is a timely and enthralling look at America’s past and present, one family’s legacy, and a young black woman’s life, filtered through her sharp and curious eyes.

About this Event:

Leon Jett was the Eiteljorg’s Public Programs Manager from 1999 to 2007 when he taken from us at a much-too-young age.

In his eight years at the Eiteljorg, Leon made his mark on the museum through his dedication to quality programming and to working within the Indianapolis community to ensure that anyone coming to the Eiteljorg could see themselves in the museum—in the stories, in the art and exhibitions, and in the programming.

In keeping with Leon’s personal and professional mission, we instituted this annual memorial lecture to highlight the contributions and all-too-often unknown stories of historical and contemporary African Americans in the West.


August 14
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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