Leading commentator on race Jelani Cobb to speak at Coe Contemporary Issues Forum

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
(319) 399-8605 or rpritcha@coe.edu

2017-02-13 09:16:13 - General

Jelani Cobb
Jelani Cobb

One of America's leading commentators on race, Jelani Cobb, will be the speaker for the 14th Coe College Contemporary Issues Forum on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Sinclair Auditorium. Cobb is an award-winning writer at The New Yorker magazine, where he has penned a remarkable series of articles about race, the police and injustice. He is regarded as one of the country's top scholars in African American history and teaches in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Tickets are available at no charge at www.coe.edu/boxoffice, or by calling the Coe College Box Office at 319-399-8600, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In 2015, Cobb received the Sidney Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism for his New Yorker columns, in which he combined "the strengths of an on-the-scene reporter, a public intellectual, a teacher, a vivid writer, a subtle moralist, and an accomplished professional historian." His best-known articles include "The Anger in Ferguson," "Murders in Charleston," and "What We Talk About When We Talk About Reparations."

In awarding him the Hillman Prize, the jury wrote, "No one has done a better job of placing (the events in Ferguson, Missouri) - and similar happenings in other places like Sanford, Florida; Cleveland, Ohio; and Staten Island, New York - in their broader context than Jelani Cobb. Cobb met the challenge of describing the turmoil in Ferguson in a way that cut through the frantic chaos of 'breaking news' and deepened readers' understanding of what they were seeing, hearing, and feeling. Ferguson was not an aberration, he showed, but a microcosm of race relations in the United States - organically connected to the complicated legacy of segregation and the unpaid debts of slavery itself."

On Feb. 19, Cobb will be the first recipient of the Walter Bernstein Award from the Writers Guild of America, East. Named in honor of one of the Guild’s most distinguished and courageous members, the Bernstein Award is presented to honor writers who have demonstrated with creativity, grace and bravery a willingness to confront social injustice in the face of adversity.

Cobb's critically acclaimed "Frontline" documentary on PBS, "Policing the Police," explores the complexities involved in reforming the Newark Police Department and its fractured relationship with the community.

Formerly, Cobb was an associate professor of history at the University of Connecticut, where he was director of the Africana Studies Institute. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford foundations. He is the author of "Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress," "To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic" and "The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Other Essays." His forthcoming book is "Antidote to Revolution: African American Anticommunism and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1931 - 1957."

Established by the late K. Raymond Clark '30, the Contemporary Issues Forum presents the views of distinguished leaders whose work has shaped and altered the course of world events. The forum has featured former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, former Poland President Lech Walesa, deep-sea oceanographer Robert Ballard, civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, "Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau, ecology expert Jared Diamond, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, celebrated author Sir Salman Rushdie, former Senate Majority Leader and Special Envoy George Mitchell, Pulitzer Prize-winning global health expert Laurie Garrett, and legendary soccer player Abby Wambach.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe's vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.