7 Masterful Quotes on Originality From 2017’s Black Pulitzer Prize Winners

7 Masterful Quotes on Originality From 2017’s Black Pulitzer Prize Winners

(Image: Lynn Nottage | Photo Credit: Susan Johann)


The 101st Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on April 10, 2017. This year, the winners included four African American writers: Lynn Nottage, Colson Whitehead, Tyehimba Jess, and Hilton Als. Many applauded the Pulitzer Prize board for recognizing the work of black authors and creators, and many are hoping that this will pave a path for more diversity in this prestigious group of honorees.

It goes without saying that the work of these brilliant writers and thought leaders always provides plenty of inspiration. That’s why we’ve rounded up some wise words from these trailblazing, black winners, to bless you with their eloquence and insight.

Poet Tyehimba Jess, playwright Lynn Nottage, novelist Colson Whitehead, and critic and author Hilton Als are among the best, when it comes to the written word. They effortlessly craft their thoughts to eloquently state universal musings and truths. Let their words of wisdom encourage and uplift, as they remind you to stay true to your own message.


Tyehimba Jess, Poet


Jess is the winner in the poetry category for Olio,  a collection of America’s blues, work songs, and church hymns.


“She told me one time, that in order to hear her true voice, she’d had to ask herself about her own masks. What kind of mask might I have on? she said. Because let me tell you, most don’t even know they’re wearing a mask. You’ve got to know which masks, how many masks you’re wearing before you can put it down and see your true self.”

– From Olio


Lynn Nottage, Playwright


Nottage is the winner in the drama category for her play, Sweat.  She is the first female playwright to win the Pulitzer Prize twice, according to Variety.


“I am interested in people living in the margins of society, and I do have a mission to tell the stories of women of color in particular. I feel we’ve been present throughout history, but our voices have been neglected.”

“Just because it’s a unique perspective doesn’t mean it can’t offer something universal.”


Colson Whitehead, Novelist


Whitehead is the winner in the fiction category for his novel, The Underground Railroad.


“It is failure that guides evolution; perfection provides no incentive for improvement, and nothing is perfect.”

“You can’t rush inspiration.”


Hilton Als, Critic and Author


Als is the winner in the criticism category for his work in The New Yorker.


“Life will try to limit you if you give in and let it.”

“I think you’re not really teaching anyone, unless you’re learning yourself.”