By Kelsyn Parker
Photos by Austin Aubert
Best-selling author and Dillard University alumna Lisa Frazier Page detailed how her personal hardships transformed her into the renowned writer that she is today. Frazier Page revisited her journey through her career as a journalist and then an author at Dillard University’s Brain Food series in the university’s Georges Auditorium on March 12.
Frazier Page rose to critical acclaim in the early 2000s as the co-author for the 2002 autobiography “The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream.” The book told the story of three young black men who vowed to one another that they would graduate college, become doctors, and escape the clutches of violence of their community. The book became a New York Times bestseller, and served as an important moment in her career. Frazier Page credited her time at Dillard University with helping her develop the skills she used to overcome obstacles during her career.
“Look for opportunities. Show, don’t tell,” said Frazier Page, who started her career as a reporter in the city at The Times Picayune, and later went on to work for The Washington Post.
“The power of our story is in the things that we are most afraid to tell,” said Frazier Page, who noted she was one of the first students to study Mass Communication at Dillard in the early 1980s. It was her experiences in college that led her to cracking the code behind telling stories.
“Our stories are not just for us,” she said, and it is this perspective that she applies to every story. According to Frazier Page, stories aren’t just to raise profiles. They are to enlighten, inform, and inspire, she said.
“Many people want to write memoirs. Everybody thinks that they have a story,” she said. “But we only want to tell the parts of our story that makes us look good,” she said.
She shared how she was able to document the story of Carlotta Walls LaNier of the Little Rock Nine, who was the first black woman to graduate from Central High School. Walls LaNier and her agent handpicked Frazier Page to write the memoir of this member the Little Rock Nine.
“I was blessed to become the writer of Carlotta’s story,” Frazier Page said. She explained that Walls LaNier’s own individual story got lost in the midst of the retelling the story of the Little Rock Nine. After having intimate conversations with Walls LaNier, Frazier Page uncovered the civil rights figure’s untold narrative and it was this personal journey that formed the basis of the novel “A Mighty Long Way” in 2009. Frazier Page was able to unearth the details Walls LaNier had buried within her by starting with a simple question: “What is your story?”
“That should be the question you ask before you set out to tell any story,” Frazier Page instructed the audience. “What about your story or my story will stop a woman in her tracks and make her want to know more?” she asked.
Frazier Page encouraged aspiring writers to be unique with their approach when it comes to storytelling. She reinforced the importance of recording the experiences of both.