Isabel Wilkerson Lecture and Q&A

The BMA will host a special Community Day presentation in partnership with the Open Society Institute-Baltimore (OSI).

Join us in the BMA Auditorium or online for a lecture and conversation with Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson, author of the award-winning book The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Wilkerson will share her perspectives on the Great Migration and its relevance to present-day migration via Zoom, followed by a hybrid conversation with Jessica Bell Brown, co-curator of A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration and Curator and Department Head for Contemporary Art at the BMA.

This event is part of OSI’s Talking About Race series, which first featured Wilkerson in 2011.

Registration is required to watch online or to attend the in-person broadcast in the BMA Auditorium. Recording is not permitted.



BMA Members: Please begin your reservation by selecting “Login” in the upper right corner of our ticketing system.

Program Schedule


3:30 p.m. — Auditorium doors open

4-5 p.m. — Live-stream begins. Opening remarks, lecture, and Q&A


For more information on this speaker please visit prhspeakers.com.



Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, has become a leading figure in narrative nonfiction, an interpreter of the human condition, and an impassioned voice for demonstrating how history can help us understand ourselves, our country, and our current era of upheaval. She is a native of Washington, D.C., and a daughter of the Great Migration. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1994, as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times, making her the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. She then devoted 15 years and interviewed more than 1,200 people to tell the story of the six million people, among them her parents, who defected from the Jim Crow South. Her debut work, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, the Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia universities, and the Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize and was shortlisted for both the Pen-Galbraith Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her latest book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (2020), examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how a hierarchy of social divisions still defines our lives today. Caste is being adapted into a Netflix film directed, written, and produced by Ava DuVernay.


John Meyerhoff, OSI-Baltimore Board Member

John Meyerhoff recently retired as the Clinical Scholar in Rheumatology at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. He graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, received a B.A. from the University of Michigan, and an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.  He had been on the full-time faculty at Sinai Hospital for 31 years and was on the full-time faculty at the University of Maryland School of Medicine for 5 years and part-time faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for 30 years. In addition to seeing patients, he has authored numerous peer reviewed articles and a dozen book chapters and has served in leadership positions in the teaching programs at Sinai Hospital. He is a Fellow of both the American College of Physicians and the American College of Rheumatology.

John is a passionate advocate for social justice including bettering the lives of all children. He has served on the Board of the leading child abuse prevention and treatment agency in Maryland for over 35 years: 12 years as Board President of Parents Anonymous and the remainder as a Board member of its successor agency, The Family Tree, of which he is the Founding President. He is a past recipient of the Community Service Award from the Maryland State Medical Society for this activity.

He is a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. John serves on the Board of Trustees of the Baltimore Museum of Art and he is a Trustee of the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Modern Art Foundation. He served on the board of the James Renwick Alliance, which is the support organization for the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian, for 18 years.


Jessica Bell Brown

Curator and Department Head for Contemporary Art at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Her recent exhibition projects include How Do We Know The World?, Thaddeus Mosley: Forest, Stephanie Syjuco: Vanishing Point (Overlay), and A Movement In Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration co-organized with the Mississippi Museum of Art. Prior to the BMA she was the Consulting Curator at Gracie Mansion Conservancy in New York, where she curated She Persists: A Century of Women Artists in New York, 1919-2019 with First Lady Chirlane McCray. Previously, she held roles at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Creative Time. Her writing has been featured in several artist monographs and catalogues, including Janiva Ellis, Thaddeus Mosley, Baldwin Lee, Lubaina Himid, Matthew Angelo Harrison, as well as Flash Art, Artforum, Art Papers, Hyperallergic, and The Brooklyn Rail.


Open Society Institute – Baltimore

Open Society Institute-Baltimore is the Open Society Foundations’ only U.S. field office. We are intensely focused on creating transformative change on the local level that can inform transformation in the U.S. and around the world. Our mission is to disrupt the long-standing legacy of structural racism in Baltimore by supporting powerful social change movements led by and centering the needs, interests, and voices of historically marginalized communities and communities of color. Our vision is the creation of a racially just and liberated Baltimore, one in which all residents have access to the supports and resources needed to actualize their highest potential, and race no longer serves as the single most powerful predictor of one’s life outcomes and well-being.


Isabel Wilkerson. Photo by Joe Henson

The Details

Location BMA Main Campus Cost Free; Registration required

Dates & Times