(Cancelled, Geannuleerd) Margo Jefferson on Race, Class and Feminism

The American critic and memoirist on what it means to belong

Programme editor
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In cooperation with

Tot ons grote ongenoegen moeten we u – wederom – meedelen dat het programma met Margo Jefferson is geannuleerd. Het spijt ons enorm, ook omdat we niet op zoek gaan naar een nieuwe datum. We hopen op uw begrip. Het is wél nog steeds Black Achievement Month in De Balie, met programma’s: The president’s daughter & the richest freeborn lady en Alledaagse waardigheid.

To our great regret, we have to inform you – once again – that the programme with Margo Jefferson has been cancelled. We are extremely sorry, also because we will not be looking for a new date. We hope for your understanding. It is, however, still Black Achievement Month in De Balie, with programmes: The president’s daughter & the richest freeborn lady and Everyday Dignity.

Since the 1970s, Margo Jefferson has commented on and interpreted contemporary American life. She has done so as a journalist, as a critic, as a privileged Black female writer. Now in her seventies, she uses her own past to understand the society that has shaped her. How do you make sense of what society believes you to be? And how do you make sense of what you yourself believe to be?

Rather than writing a straight forward memoir, Jefferson uses her newest book, Constructing a Nervous System, to bring alive a cast of characters. Alter egos enable her to get to the heart of the American experience. Some of these voices are famous—like Ike Turner, Ella Fitzgerald, and Jay-Z. Others have been denied their place in our collective memory, like the Tennessee Tigerbelles, the all-female athletics team who won 23 medals in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Jefferson will talk about perspective and identity, about positioning your own story and enabling others to tell theirs. Joining the conversation is Dutch essayist Stephan Sanders, with whom she will discuss how identity shapes your experience and how experience shapes your identity.

We know that race is a construction. We also know that race is a construction site we’re not going to be leaving anytime soon. What are we to do with our multiple selves, conjoined here, crosswired there?

Margo Jefferson
About Margo Jefferson

Margo Jefferson is a critic-at-large with the New York Times. In 1995, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for her books and cultural essays. She is most famous for her collection of essays On Michael Jackson, and her previous memoir: Negroland, in which she chronicles her childhood in the Black upper-class of Chicago. Her latest book has been translated into Dutch as Het bouwen van een zenuwstelsel and is out now.

About Black Achievement Month
Black Achievement Month (BAM) is an annual Dutch event held in October to honor the achievements of Black individuals. Its main objective is to raise awareness about the valuable contributions made by prominent Black figures to Dutch society. Throughout the month, BAM features a series of activities such as debates, exhibitions, films, theater, and dance performances, all focused on showcasing the talents and accomplishments of individuals with African roots.


Margo Jefferson
Margo JeffersonWriter, academic
Stephan Sanders
Stephan SandersEssayist
Nyjolene Grey Singer