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Dorsett Fellowship Lecture Series:  
Free Speech on College Campuses

Jelani CobbJelani Cobb

January 10, 2018

The Half-Life of Freedom: Race and Justice in America Today

Jelani Cobb is an American writer, author and educator. The Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University, Mr. Cobb was previously an associate professor of history and director of the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut from 2012 to 2016. Since 2015, he has been a staff writer at The New Yorker.

At the 2015 Hillman Prize ceremony, presenter and journalist Hendrik Hertzberg described the work of Jelani Cobb as combining the “rigor and depth of a professional historian with the alertness of a reporter, the liberal passion of an engaged public intellectual and the literary flair of a fine writer.” So it is with Cobb’s riveting, auspicious keynotes: up-to-the-moment meditations and breakdowns of the complex dynamics of race and racism in America. Whether speaking on Black Lives Matter and activism, the battle zones of Ferguson or Baltimore, the legacy of a black presidency, or the implications of the Trump era—or, more generally, on the history of civil rights, violence, and inequality in employment, housing, or incarceration in the US—Cobb speaks with the surety and articulate passion of only our best journalists. His keynotes inspire us to work, tirelessly, toward achieving an ongoing dream of equity—of genuine democracy. They show us that not only are the levers of justice in our hands, but we can move them in the direction we see fit. And they remind us that the only obstacle holding us back is the comforting illusion that we’ve already achieved our goals.

 

Last Updated: 7/23/18