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Margo Jefferson

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Information about Margo Jefferson

Profile image of Margo Jefferson

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Journalism Professor
Arts Critic

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Shades of green
Favorite Food:
Chocolate
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
One Never Knows, Do One?

Birthplace

Born:
10/17/1947
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Journalism Professor
Arts Critic

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Shades of green
Favorite Food:
Chocolate
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
One Never Knows, Do One?

Birthplace

Born:
10/17/1947
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Margo Jefferson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Professor and arts critic Margo L. Jefferson was born on October 17, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois, to Ronald and Irma Jefferson. Jefferson graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School in 1964. She earned her B.A. degree in English and American literature from Brandeis University in 1968, and went on to earn her M.S. degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1971.

In 1973, Jefferson was hired as an associate editor for Newsweek magazine, where she worked until 1978. In 1979, she joined the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at New York University as an assistant professor. Jefferson was hired as a contributing editor by Vogue magazine in 1984, where she wrote arts reviews and essays until 1989. She also served as a contributing editor to 7 Days magazine in 1988 and 1989. Jefferson returned to New York University as an assistant professor in 1989, where she taught critical writing and features until 1991, when she was hired as a lecturer of American literature, performing arts criticism, writing, and English at Columbia University. In 1993, Jefferson accepted a position at The New York Times as a book and arts critic. She was then promoted to Sunday theater critic in 1995, and became critic-at-large in 1996. She is a professor of writing at Columbia University, and has also served as a visiting associate professor at Eugene Lang College and The New School for Liberal Arts in New York City.

Throughout her career, Jefferson has been a contributing critic to many other publications, including Grand Street, The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, The Village Voice, Ms., The Soho Weekly News, Dance Ink, Lear’s, Harper’s, Alt, Denmark, and NRC Handelsblad. She has written and performed two theater pieces at The Cherry Lane Theatre and The Culture Project. Jefferson is also the author of On Michael Jackson, which was published in 2006. Her memoir Negroland, was published in 2015 and received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography in 2016, the Bridge Prize, the Heartland Prize and was short-listed for the Baillie Gifford Prize.

Jefferson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1995, and has received the Alumni Achievement Award from Brandeis University and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Columbia University School of Journalism. In addition, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rockefeller Foundation /Theater Communications Group grant, and has served as a senior fellow for the National Arts Journalism Program.

Margo Jefferson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 20, 2017.

See how Margo Jefferson is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Margo Jefferson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson describes her mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson talks about her maternal grandmother's education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson describes her mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson talks about her mother's upbringing and education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson describes her maternal grandmother's career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson remembers her maternal grandmother's personality and appearance
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Margo Jefferson describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Margo Jefferson talks about her paternal family members who passed for white
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Margo Jefferson describes her paternal family's decision to leave Mississippi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson talks about her paternal family's move to the West
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson describes her father's and grandparents' employment in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson talks about her paternal family's lifestyle in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson describes her father's siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson talks about her father's move to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson describes her earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Margo Jefferson remembers the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Margo Jefferson describes her early neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Margo Jefferson recalls her start at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Margo Jefferson recalls her start at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Margo Jefferson describes her early hair care regimen
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson remembers her early educational interests
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson describes her early challenges with eyesight
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson talks about societal beauty standards
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson describes her sister's dance background
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson talks about her sister's career at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson remembers her early piano lessons
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson describes the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Margo Jefferson recalls her decision to attend Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson remembers the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson describes her and her sister's organizational involvement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson remembers her theater experiences
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson describes her interest in cultural criticism
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson recalls joining the writing staff at Newsweek
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson remembers her career at Newsweek, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson remembers her career at Newsweek, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Margo Jefferson describes her early freelance and teaching engagements
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Margo Jefferson describes her career at The New York Times
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Margo Jefferson talks about her challenges with depression
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Margo Jefferson remembers the impetus for her book, 'On Michael Jackson'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Margo Jefferson describes the reception of her book, 'On Michael Jackson'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson talks about her one-woman show, 'Sixty Minutes in Negroland,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson talks about her one-woman show, 'Sixty Minutes in Negroland,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson describes her teaching career after leaving The New York Times
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson talks about the Guggenheim fellowship
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson describes the narrative voice of 'Negroland: A Memoir'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson reflects upon writing about the performance of race
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson talks about challenges faced by the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Margo Jefferson describes her hopes for the readership of 'Negroland: A Memoir'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Margo Jefferson describes the responses to 'Negroland: A Memoir'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Margo Jefferson talks about her interest in the story of Mary McLeod Bethune
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Margo Jefferson talks about the women's movement
  • Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Margo Jefferson recalls the female cultural figures she reviewed
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Margo Jefferson describes the concept of Negroland
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson talks about First Lady Michelle Obama
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson talks about the Women's March in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson describes her advice to young African American women, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson shares her advice to aspiring writers
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson describes her advice to young African American women, pt. 2