Black History Reading Initiative honors James Alan McPherson

The African American Studies Program, together with the African American Council at the University of Iowa, have launched a Black History Reading Initiative for the month of February to honor James Alan McPherson, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for his book Elbow Room. Community members are invited to a discussion of Elbow Room, on Friday, Mar. 1 from 2-4 p.m. at the Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A.

McPherson was also the recipient of the first City of Literature Paul Engle Award.  

In honor of the Paul Engle Award, Ed Folsom, James Galvin and Michael Hill recorded interviews reflecting on James Alan McPherson and his work and accomplishments. View these videos about James Alan McPherson here

In the first video, literature professor Ed Folsom reminisces about McPherson: meeting him for the first time, his soft spoken manner and how his gumbo helped soothe the divisions between the English department and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Poet James Galvin says that figuratively speaking, McPherson saved his life.  He goes on describe him as “the moral center of the workshop.”  Finally, professor Michael Hill describes how McPherson was a "reluctant star" and uncertain about how to react upon receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Elbow Room in 1978.