Imani Perry, the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, won the National Book Award in the nonfiction category. She was honored for her book South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation (Ecco Press, 2022).
“It is a book about encounters. It is a book about the encounter with history but also with human beings,” Dr. Perry said. “And as part of it, self-discovery, to try to understand why a Southern identity is so centrally important to me, and why it’s so centrally important to the formation of this country.”
In accepting the award Professor Perry eloquently stated that “I write for my people. I write because we children of the lash-scarred, rope-choked, bullet-ridden, desecrated are still here, standing. We may write in solitude but we labor in solidarity. Community is never easy but absolutely necessary, may we meet the challenges of a broken world together, making intercessions with love unbound and heart without end.”
Professor Perry is a graduate of Yale University, where she majored in literature and American studies. She earned a Ph.D. in American studies from Harvard University, a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School, and a master’s degree in law from Georgetown University.