In 2021.

University of Iowa Writers Workshop – James Alan McPherson.

Over a thirty-year period, James Alan McPherson, the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, found plenty of “elbow room” for both himself and others while teaching at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. McPherson won the Pulitzer in 1978 for his collection of essays entitled, “Elbow Room,” but because of his color, and the fact he was living in Virginia, he was not allowed to fully celebrate his achievement.

In 1979, McPherson moved to Iowa City, beginning his 30-year run as a professor at the Workshop, and here, he found plenty of “elbow room,” saying this about our city:

I have many friends here: black and white and other … I am confident that here, I am first of all a person, a human being. I have been accepted into the life of the community. I have open and free access to what in this community has meaning and value.

This week (2021), Iowa City will celebrate renaming Creekside Park in his honor.


Did you know? is an Our Iowa Heritage blog series that offers you a little bit of Iowa trivia from a large selection of stories on our website. Subscribe to this FREE blog and you’ll get a new email from us every Monday – Wednesday – Friday.

Join us for Our Iowa Heritage blog posts.

Learn some historical facts about Iowa City, Johnson County, or Eastern Iowa.

Amaze your friends.

Click to learn more.

2 thoughts on “In 2021.

  1. Marty,

    I loved this sharing of James Alan McPherson…I met him about the time I was doing “The Burg” and he kindly wrote a piece for it. He was a lovely person.

    I’m gaining strength after the procedure and getting things together for our annual (except for last year) trek to the MI woods, to the Blue Lake Adult Band Camp, where Ken loves to go for learning and friendship. We’ll be gone for about a week.

    I met with someone yesterday about the park part of Remembrance Park and she had some good ideas going forward. But it will have to wait now until I get back. Will be in touch with any news.

    Good luck on Friday’s post! Have you gotten any comments on the Marybeth-posting?



  2. ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY your trip Marybeth! Relax – refresh – recharge. I’ll have to find a copy of that article by McPherson – and check out his books. What an intriguing gentleman. We’ll look forward to your return & chat then. Nothing new to report – but it’s gonna take time. My mentor used to tell me, Marty, go slow so you can go fast later! :0) Have a great week away!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s