Julie Sullivan’s new novel: ‘The World is Full of Champions’
Julie Sullivan’s new novel is called “The World is Full of Champions.” The story spans more than 30 years from the ’60s to the late ’90s in race-torn Philadelphia as two proud Black families—one wealthy, the other not—confront major change when tragedy strikes and the daughter of the working-class Smythe family falls in love with the son of the affluent Whitman family.
“In this novel, I wanted to illuminate how families of privilege have a different lifestyle than families who are struggling. ‘The World is Full of Champions’ comes from the idea that you don’t have to be a winner to be a champion. You just need to have to learn from the lessons of life and survive,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Arizona State University where she teaches healthcare ethics. Prior to teaching, she headed an international nonprofit organization that sent thousands of volunteer educators to work on education and health reform throughout sub-saharan Africa. She credits a lot of what she does to the work of her father.
“My father, Leon Sullivan, was a prominent black civil rights leader, but he was also really prestigious. He had a lot of influential friends, he knew presidents, he considered Nelson Mandela a friend. So we grew up in Philadelphia understanding that demarcation. He was the pastor of a church where the parishioners were really poor, and those were the people who were our friends,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan has received several awards for her work in Africa, including the World Association of NGO’s Education Award for Innovation and Leadership. She is married to a Brit, and together they have six children, in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Sullivan also authored “Against the Tide,” a nonfiction book chronicling the life and times of her great-grandfather, a Black steamboat captain who battled prejudice in the Chesapeake Bay region.