Racism remains troubling, but it is important for the black community to acknowledge that it still exists, says Ta-Nehisi Coates, acclaimed author of “Between the World and Me,” winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction. In a frank discussion at Medgar Evers College on the legacy of racial violence in the U.S., Coates said: “It is a beautiful thing when you are firm, when you can stand and say, ‘You can’t lie to me. I know what happened.’…There’s a kind of freedom in that.”
Pulitzer-Prize winning critic Margo Jefferson talks about her memoir on growing up in an upper middle class black family in Chicago, a place she calls “Negroland.” “I wanted to record a particular way of living as a person of color…that sense that we were bordered on one side by the larger world of blacks, on the other side by white people,” Jefferson said. In conversation with Hunter College professor Karen Hunter, Jefferson delves into pressures on the black elite to look, speak, and act in a way that would be acceptable to whites.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg put himself in charge of NYC public schools, and Bill de Blasio has continued mayoral control, but is that the best thing for students? Public Advocate Letitia James co-hosted a group of experts at CUNY School of Law to discuss it. She said parents citywide feel the school system doesn’t hear their concerns, and the group discussed how to improve the system.
The longtime New York State Senate and Assembly leaders are indicted on corruption charges, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo names the attorney general a special prosecutor to look into civilian deaths caused by police. With these upheavals in the state legal universe, is this the year lawmakers finally grapple with sentencing reform and other changes to the criminal justice system? At John Jay College, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and other experts discuss the reform proposals.
If marriage equality can become politically acceptable in the United States, so can the concept of the government promoting income equality, Paul Krugman says — but he thinks it will take a cycle of three presidential elections — “the administration of Chelsea Clinton,” he jokes. To spread the wealth around, the feds can improve the climate for labor unions and set a living wage as the minimum wage, Krugman tells Graduate Center professor Janet Gornick, in a discussion of the book “Inequality: What Can Be Done?” by Anthony B. Atkinson.
Barney Frank tells how reducing drug prosecutions —- which he says are largely racist —- and military interventions would free up money for more government-subsidized health care, education and other social programs. The former Massachusetts congressman also tells the Roosevelt House audience also says the fight for gay equality will be aided by the profit motive of corporations that want to sell to the gay community.
In the Coast Guard, Richard Larrabee oversaw the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the search for JFK Jr. after the Kennedy prince crashed his plane. He joined the Port Authority and was in 1 WTC on 9/11 and was port commerce director when Hurricane Sandy hit. “Always take advantage of a good crisis” to effect change, he tells a Baruch College audience.
In his 2015 commencement address to City College grads, Nobel Laureate Dr. John O’Keefe fondly recalled his college years when he first began exploring connections between philosophy and neuroscience. “I don’t think my story is unique. I’m just a good example of City College’s gift to youth and to the nation,” O’Keefe said.
Hedge fund manager and activist investor Whitney Tilson thought Lumber Liquidators’ profit margins were was too high. Tilson tells an audience at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business how his suspicions led him to accuse the company of using cheap Chinese lumber containing potentially unsafe levels of formaldehyde.
Nobel Laureate and City College alum John O’Keefe traces historic findings on the hippocampus and human memory to his recent research on the brain’s cognitive map. O’Keefe, along with two other scientists, won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering an inner GPS in the brain that helps navigate surroundings. His engaging, and often humorous, discussion marked the inaugural Professor Sharon Cosloy-Edward Blank Family Distinguished Scientist Lecture at City College.