IN THE NEWS

Students at Immaculate Conception Academy Speak With Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Isabel Wilkerson / December 12, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA –Two students from Immaculate Conception Academy participated in a Community Conversation with Isabel Wilkerson on Wednesday, December 7, 2011. Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is the author of The Warmth of Other Sons. The gathering took place at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco. Kabria Pitts ‘12 and Aleyda DeGracia ‘13 had the chance to go on stage and ask Wilkerson questions about her book, which tells the story of Africa-Americans who migrated from the South to the North-East and West of the United States from 1915-1970 in order to find a better life.

The event was hosted by Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that has partnered with Immaculate Conception Academy to teach students about combating racism, anti-Semitism and prejudice. They also nurture democracy through education programs worldwide. ICA has worked with Facing History and Ourselves since 2007, sitting in on webinars, producing oral history projects, and supporting book launches.

Aleyda shared a quote from the book that touched her, and asked whether it had been hard for Wilkerson to put herself in the shoes of those she interviewed. Wilkerson said she spent many hours with these narrators to try to convey their emotions and the empathy she felt while interviewing them. Wilkerson also said she believed this book isn’t just about the African-American migration, but that all people can connect to this story since someone, somewhere in everyone’s family history crossed an ocean, desert, river, etc., to be here.

Kabria asked how Wilkerson had found so many people to open up to her. Wilkerson responded saying she went to community centers and retirement homes asking if people were a part of the migration. She interviewed over 1,200 people, narrowed the stories to 30, and then focused on three specifically for the book. It took her 15 years to complete the project.

Jack Weinstein, Director of Facing History and Ourselves, raved about the students’ presentation at the Community Conversation event, saying, “Aleyda and Kabria represented the whole community by eliciting great responses from Isabel.  They did so with clarity and dignity in front of a large and very interested crowd. Eileen O’Kane and ICA have reason to be proud--and we are grateful to all involved at the school.” 

Eileen O’Kane, Social Studies teacher at Immaculate Conception Academy, has been arranging opportunities for her students to participate in Facing History and Ourselves events. She hopes that these opportunities will increase her students’ awareness of social issues, and encourage them to be advocates in society.

To learn more about ICA or to donate, please contact Katie Mayberry at (415) 824 – 2052 x 40 or kmayberry@icacademy.org.

About ICA

Immaculate Conception Academy, a Catholic college preparatory school, educates young women for a life of faith, integrity and service. As a Cristo Rey school in the Dominican tradition, they are committed to providing both excellent education and meaningful corporate work study experiences to students of limited financial resources. Learn more about ICA at www.icacademy.org. Learn more about Cristo Rey at www.cristoreynetwork.org.

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