Introductions: Jelani Cobb
November 10, 2021
By Rebecca Hoogs, Executive Director
It is my great honor to introduce Jelani Cobb tonight. We are here to celebrate his work as a journalist and his most recent work as editor, along with David Remnick: The Matter of Black Lives, The New Yorker’s groundbreaking anthology on race in America.
The anthology was assembled in the wake of last summer’s uprising for racial justice and begins with James Baldwin’s 1962 essay which would later form the basis for The Fire Next Time. The anthology traces the years since—what happened, its context, and how The New Yorker wrote about it. Cobb writes in his introduction that he hopes to have assembled a collection which “begins to suggest, through an array of writers, the depths of political thinking and argument connected to race in America; the range of cultural accomplishment; the variousness of personal experience.” Kirkus Reviews called it “an essential volume for readers interested in the Black past and present, as all readers should be.”
We are delighted to have Jelani here, not only for this anthology, but for his long career as a professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a historian, and a Peabody Award-winning journalist. His most recent book is The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, and he won the 2015 Sidney Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, for his columns on race, policing, and injustice.
We began the Journalism Series after the 2016 election when we wanted to shine a spotlight on the important work of journalism and journalists, as defenders of the free press, as passionate advocates for a better world. Jelani Cobb is exactly the kind of journalist we needed then and that we still need now. Please join me in welcoming to the stage, chronicler of the history happening right now, Jelani Cobb.
Rebecca Hoogs gave this introduction to open our 2021/22 Journalism Series event with Jelani Cobb on November 7, 2021.