Nostalgia buffs tend to romanticize it, but for generations of immigrants who were forced to live in its jam-packed tenements, the Lower East Side was a place to leave as soon as possible, according to Mark Russ Federman. “Today you have hotels, bars, clubs, restaurants — it’s a vibrant place,” says Federman, who was at […]
For physicists, it’s like hitting the mega millions jackpot over and over. “After decades of thinking and searching, it seems that one of the major building-blocks of our understanding of what the world is made of has fallen into place,” says Neal Weiner, professor of physics at New York University, about the announcement that the […]
To write a good song you have to find a connection between what you know and what the audience knows, according to three-time Grammy award winner Steve Earle. “Early on, I wrote a song called “Little Rock on the Road” — about my then 3-year-old son — while I was on the road,” said Earle, […]
Graduate Center history professor James Oakes shatters a widespread belief that the Civil War was first a war to restore the Union and, only gradually, when it became a military necessity, a war to end slavery. “Liberty and union, now and forever, were one and inseparable,” says Oakes. “That is what Lincoln and the Republicans […]
Former New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau reiterated his longtime commitment to the rights of undocumented immigrants, while urging lawmakers to pass a comprehensive reform policy. “It’s extremely shortsighted to lock them up,” said Morgenthau, who has called for changes in the immigration laws themselves, spoke at event sponsored by the Roosevelt House Public Policy […]
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor hopes that telling her own story won’t just paint a picture of her personal life, but of the experiences that can help us all to overcome what divides us. “If you speak a different language, if you have a different color skin, if you come from a background that is different from the norm — people forget these are superficial differences,” says Sotomayor, while reading from her new book My Beloved World. Speaking at the Heritage Lecture Series at Hostos Community College, she recalled stories from her Bronx neighborhood and her family. In writing her memoir, Justice Sotomayor wanted words to “paint pictures” of her experience to emphasize the values shared across all cultures. “At essence, everyone shares the most common of values,” she says.
While President Obama’s deferred-action program will grant thousands of undocumented immigrants a temporary reprieve from deportation, it leaves thousands more, who are ineligible, in legal limbo. “This is just the beginning of our fight,” says Sofia Campos, board chair of the United We Dream Network, a student-led organization representing undocumented immigrants. “Because of my immigration status, I was to be excluded from reaching for my dreams and fulfilling my potential,” says Campos, who recently applied for deferred-action status and took part in the panel, “Undocumented and Unafraid: Voices from the Immigrant Youth Movement,” sponsored by CUNY’s Murphy Institute.
In a lively and often raucous discussion, famed jurist Alan Dershowitz and political journalist Peter Beinart debate the topic of Beinart’s provocative new book, The Crisis of Zionism, and the role of Israelis in the creation of the Palestinian state. “Every time Israel subsidizes more Israelis to move to the West Bank we make those Palestinian leaders, who reluctantly accept Israel’s right to exist, look like fools,” said Beinart, an associate professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, who also called for a boycott of Israeli products from beyond its 1967 eastern border. “Peter naively believes that if Israel resolves its problems with the Palestinians, the threat that Israel faces will go away,” said Dershowitz, to the audience at the Perspectives: Conversations on Policy and Place with Peter Beinart series at the Graduate Center. “But they won’t —- the problem is that the vast majority of Muslims don’t see the two-state solution as the answer.”
How does one survive the trauma of a childhood full of emotional pain? For distinguished author Francine du Plessix Gray, it was grist for the mill of her Pulitzer Prize-nominated 2005 memoir Them, which chronicles a privileged but neglected upbringing by Russian emigre parents in New York in the 1940s. “Being ill-treated by people who were kind but too busy climbing the social ladder of the city to pay attention to me, made me into a stronger person,” says du Plessix Gray in a candid discussion with Bill Kelly, part of the Extraordinary Lives series at the Graduate Center. “As a writer you have to criticize people for their actions, but you have to end with compassion.”
Before David Nasaw took on the daunting challenge of writing a biography of one of the country’s major historical figures, he asked for access to the family archive. “I demanded and received full permission to see all the papers that had been classified and kept away from all researchers,” says Nasaw, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. professor of history at the Graduate Center, in a discussion with Gary Giddins about his new book, “The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy.” Nasaw also warned the family about the contents: “You don’t want me to write this book,” he told the late Senator Edward Kennedy. “It’s not going to make the family happy and who knows when there might be another Kennedy running for office.”