Past Event

This IS America: What's Next After the 2020 Elections

March 9, 2021
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Virtual Event: Pre-Registration Required:


Jelani Cobb is an American writer, author, and educator. He is currently the Ira A. Lipman, Professor of Journalism at Columbia University. 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. At the Africana Studies Institute, he specialized in post-Civil War African American history, 20th century American politics and the history of the Cold War. He is a staff writer at The New Yorker and joined the Columbia Journalism School faculty in 2016. He has contributed to The New Yorker since 2012 and became a staff writer for the magazine in 2015. He is the recipient of the 2015 Sidney Hillman Award for Opinion and Analysis writing and writes frequently about race, politics, history, and culture. Cobb is also a recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations. He is the author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress as well as To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic.


Farah Jasmine Griffin is the inaugural Chair of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Department at Columbia University.  She is also the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature.  Professor Griffin received her B.A. from Harvard and her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale.   Griffin is the author of Who Set You Flowin?: The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford, 1995), Beloved Sisters and Loving Friends:   Letters from Rebecca Primus of Royal Oak, Maryland, and Addie Brown of Hartford Connecticut, 1854-1868 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001) and co-author, with Salim Washington, of Clawing At the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever (Thomas Dunne, 2008). Harlem Nocturne:  Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II, was published by Basic Books in 2013.   Griffin collaborated with composer, pianist, Geri Allen and director, actor S. Epatha Merkerson on two theatrical projects, for which she wrote the book:  The first, “Geri Allen and Friends Celebrate the Great Jazz Women of the Apollo,” with Lizz Wright, Dianne Reeves, Teri Lyne Carrington and others, premiered on the main stage of the Apollo Theater in May of 2013. The second, “A Conversation with Mary Lou” featuring vocalist Carmen Lundy, premiered at Harlem Stage in March 2014 and was performed at The John F. Kennedy Center in May of 2016.
Her forthcoming book, Read Until You Understand:  The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature will be published by W.W. Norton in September, 2021.


Robin D. G. Kelley is the Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in US History at UCLA. His books include  Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original; Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination; Yo’ Mama’s DisFunktional!: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America; and Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression. His essays have appeared in The Boston Review, The New York Times, Color Lines, Counterpunch, Re-Thinking Marxism, New Labor Forum, and Souls, to name a few.


[Moderator]  Samuel Kelton Roberts, Jr. is Associate Professor of History (Columbia University School of the Arts and Sciences) and Sociomedical Sciences (Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health), and is also a former Director of Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS). Dr. Roberts writes, teaches, and lectures widely on African-American urban history, especially medicine, public health, and science and technology. His widely acclaimed book, Infectious Fear: Politics, Disease, and the Health Effects of Segregation (University of North Carolina Press, 2009), is an exploration of the political economy of race and the modern American public health state between the late nineteenth century and the mid-twentieth century, a period which encompasses the overlapping and mutually-informed eras of Jim Crow segregation and modern American public health practice.

Deva R. Woodly, PhD is an Associate Professor of Politics at the New School. She is the author of The Politics of Common Sense: How Social Movements Use Public Discourse to Change Politics and Win Acceptance (Oxford 2015). She has also help fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton as well as the Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. Her research covers a variety of topics, from media & communication, to political understandings of economics, to race & imagination, & social movements. In each case, she focuses on the impacts of public discourse on the political understandings of social and economic issues as well as how those common understandings change democratic practice and public policy. Her process of inquiry is inductive, moving from concrete, real-world conditions to the conceptual implications of those realities. In all cases, she centers the perspective of ordinary citizens and political challengers with an eye toward how the demos impacts political action and shapes political possibilities. Her forthcoming book Reckoning:  #BlackLivesMatter and the Democratic Necessity of Social Movements, an examination of the ways that social movements re-politicize public life in times of political despair, will be published by Oxford University Press in Fall 2021.    


Presented in Cosponsorship

Institute for Research in African-American Studies  at Columbia University (IRAAS)
African American & African Diaspora Studies Department at Columbia University (AAADS)
Columbia University Office for Faculty Advancement
Black Student Organization at Columbia University (BSO)
Black Alumni Council of Columbia University (BAC)
Center for Ethnicity & Race at Columbia University  (CSER)