Hingham resident and Writing, Literature, and Publishing professor Jerald Walker is interviewed by the South Shore newspaper The Patriot Ledger, as he is working on his next essay collection and received multiple honors for his most recent compilation of essays, How to Make a Slave. Walker is the 2021 recipient of the Massachusetts Book Award, a 2020 National Book Award finalist, and Guggenheim Fellow.
Walker discusses his early life growing up on the South Side of Chicago, his encounters with racism, and how he became a writer.
On depicting Black people as heroes:
My philosophy is to focus more on the positives of Black life than the negatives, that we are not exclusively victims, we are not people to be pitied, we’re people to be admired and celebrated and praised for all that we have achieved and overcome. The story of African Americans is a story of heroism, not defeat, and that’s what I try to focus on when I teach my literature courses, and that’s kind of the philosophy of the essays I write. I’m writing stories that allow people to see African Americans as I see them: courageous, heroic, strong and capable of confronting any obstacles that are brought our way.