Margo Jefferson was born in Chicago in 1947. Jefferson received her Bachelor of Arts from Brandeis University, where she graduated cum laude, and her M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She became an associate editor at Newsweek in 1973 and stayed at the magazine until 1978. She then served as an assistant professor at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at New York University from 1979 to 1983 and from 1989 to 1991. Since then she has taught at the Columbia University School of the Arts, where she is now Professor of Professional Practice in Writing. She joined the Times in 1993, initially as a book reviewer, then went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. She was for many years a theatre critic at the New York Times. She is the winner for her memoir Negroland. A Memoir (Pantheon.2015) of the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award (Autobiography). Negroland has also won The Bridge Prize 2016 for Non-Fiction.
The daughter of a successful pediatrician and a fashionable socialite, Margo Jefferson spent her childhood among Chicago's black elite. She calls this society 'Negroland': 'a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty'. With privilege came expectation. Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments - the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of post-racial America - Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions. A captivating memoir on the distinction between white and black privilege and how the black power movement brought on a crisis for the author.