MacArthur Genius Colson Whitehead at City College of New York


Colson WhiteheadAt an institution noted for its award-winning scholars, it was apropos for author Colson Whitehead to grace City College in a lecture and conversation with Dr. R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy. 

Whitehead, the recipient of many awards, including the MacArthur award in 2002, was on campus recently as the concluding speaker in the Black Studies Lecture Series.  Among his many novels are John Henry Days, The Intuitionist, and Zone One that depicts a post-apocalyptic New York City, published in 2011. 

In an interview with TNJ Senior Editor Sergie Willoughby, Dr. Lewis-McCoy said this of the event:

“The Black Studies Lecture Series brings a range of leading scholars and authors on the Black experience into conversation with the greater Harlem community. The speakers range from fiction writers like Colson Whitehead to historians like Graham Hodges. We want to show our students and the world the diversity of thought and approaches to studying the African Diaspora. Also, the Black Studies Program has an ongoing Chinua Achebe Legacy Series which pays homage to the great Nigerian author who was a visiting professor at CCNY in 1989.

Colson Whitehead and I discussed the process of writing and creative approaches to thinking about the Black experience. He spoke at length about the creative process of writing and why writers should write earnestly and worry less about audience perception. He emphasized that there is no one way to write and the need for people to not feel confined by genre. He just finished a novel on the underground railroad which is due out in 2016.” 

(Whitehead, third from the left, is pictured above with Dr. Lewis-McCoy, Dr. Cheryl Sterling, and editor/author Malaika Adero, at the far right.) 


*With additional reporting by TNJ Senior Editor Sergie Willoughby.

(Photo by Herb Boyd)