The Media Narrative

Carolyn Wilkins

Carolyn Wilkins

Musician Carolyn Wilkins has had an impressive career as a jazz pianist and bandleader, but she was compelled to apply her creative talents in a new direction—writing—after her family griot died. She not only learned why her grandfather left his high-ranking position in Eisenhower’s Labor Department, but uncovered a number of other revelatory stories about her family’s past and made connections to how these ancestors contributed to her own identity.

In this episode, Wilkins talks about beginning her family research (4:30); achievements by members of the Wilkins family (9:00); a great grandfather who was both “very brilliant” and a “serial womanizer” (12:00); discovering unknown relatives through ancestor research (17:30); identity through learning family history (22:30); the relationship between Wilkins’s music and writing (25:00); reasons for her grandfather’s resignation from the federal government (29:00); and J. Ernest Wilkins Sr. role on the first U.S. Civil Rights Commission (31:30).

Show Links

Carolyn Wilkins's website

J. Ernest Wilkins Sr. on Wikipedia

U. Missouri Press author spotlight

Berklee faculty bio page

updated: 5 months ago