Isabel Wilkerson was born in Washington, D.C. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Howard University. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times in 1994, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to win for individual reporting. She also won the George Polk Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. Her first book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the 2011 Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, the 2011 Hillman Book Prize, the 2011 Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize, the Independent Literary Award for Nonfiction, and the NAACP Image Award for best literary debut. She has been a journalism professor at Princeton University and Emory University. She is currently Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University.