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USC Lecture Series

  • Wednesday, November 12, 2014
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • University of South Carolina - Gambrell Hall
Wednesday, November 12 Distinguish Professor from the University of Kansas, Dr. Maryemma Graham will be speaking at USC for the Institute for African American Research’s Fall Lecture. Her talk is titled, “All My Roots are Gathered in this Place: Margaret Walker’s South. The lecture will take place in Gambrell Hall room 431 at 7:00 PM with a reception to follow the talk. Below you will find a summary of her talk:

In an interview with Jerry W. Ward in 1986, when she had passed her fiftieth birthday, Margaret Walker stated “I have had the feel of the South in my blood since I was a child.”  She had begged her parents to leave the South as a child, and when they finally consented as she turned 17, she became fully immersed in a new life in Chicago, beginning with the two years she spent in Evanston completing her final two years of college at Northwestern. She got a first job with the WPA, began writing poetry for publication, and was instantly thrust in the limelight as part of the renowned Chicago Renaissance. 

The North was the place that gave her a unique identity, the place where she became the writer she had always wanted to be.  By 27, she was the best-known black writer in Americaundefinedsave Langston Hughes, who had yet to be taken seriously as a poet. Her award-winning volume For My People (1942) gave her access to a literary world that lay beyond the grasp of any of her peers. Less than a year later, she elected to give it all up and return to her native South.  The reasons why are neither simple nor obvious, and they provide the clues for a rather unique story about what makes the South one writer’s salvation and another’s curse. 
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