Margo Jefferson

Johanna Lawshea

The winner of a Pulitzer Prize for criticism, Margo Jefferson worked for years as a theater and book critic for Newsweek and The New York Times. Her writing has appeared in, among other publications, VogueNew York magazine, and The New Republic. She is the author of On Michael Jackson and is a professor of writing at Columbia University School of the Arts. Her latest book, a memoir, is Negroland (Pantheon), a meditation on race, sex, and American culture through the prism of the author’s rarefied upbringing and education among the black elite. Born in upper-crust black Chicago—her father was head of pediatrics at Provident, at the time the nation’s oldest black hospital; her mother was a socialite—Margo Jefferson has spent most of her life among (call them what you will) the colored aristocracy, the colored elite, the blue-vein society—a small segment of America known as “Negroland.” Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments—the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of postracial America—Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions. Flavorwire calls it, “one of the truly indispensable books of 2015.”