Since the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States, the question of whether Americans are already living in a post-racial society has been widely discussed.
Saladin Ambar, a visiting assistant professor of political science and Africana studies, believes it’s time to hold a conversation on the topic at Lehigh.
“We really haven’t seen the academy focus on this question and address its implications in a scholarly way,” says Ambar. “It’s time for academics to confront questions like, ‘Are we really living in a post-racial America already? What are the yardsticks or measures by which we would know?’ This topic is too important to be left just to popular culture to tackle.”
Thanks to Lehigh’s Spring Lecture Series on Race and Politics, three speakers—writer Eugene Robinson, political scientist Dorian Warren and art professor Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw—will visit campus next week to discuss the topic of “Post-racial America? Dreams, Myths and Visions.”
Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post and a regular contributor on MSNBC, will kick off the three-day discussion with a lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m. in the Rauch Business Center’s Perella Auditorium.
On Feb. 24, Warren, an assistant professor of political science at Columbia University, will speak at 4 p.m. in Room 102 of Maginnes Hall. On Feb. 25, Shaw, an associate professor of American art at the University of Pennsylvania, will also lecture at 4 p.m. in Maginnes 102.
The free public lectures are sponsored by the Visiting Lecturers Committee, the Council on Equity and Community, the Africana Studies program, women’s studies program, ArtsLehigh, the Humanities Center and the Office of the Dean, as well as the joint multicultural programs and the departments of history, political science, religion, English and sociology.
Ambar noted that the three lectures coincide with the Feb. 23 birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963), author of The Souls of Black Folk and other books, civil-rights activist and co-founder of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
“This is a really good way to celebrate Dr. Du Bois’ work by inviting scholars to tackle the notion of a post-racial America through the lenses of three people with different areas of expertise.”
In a 25-year career with The Washington Post, Robinson has served as city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor of the Style section. He has written books about race in Brazil and music in Cuba, covered a heavyweight championship fight, witnessed riots in Philadelphia and a murder trial in the Amazon, sat with presidents and dictators and the Queen of England, and handicapped “American Idol.”
Born and raised in South Carolina, Robinson was educated at Orangeburg High School, where he was one of a handful of black students attending the previously all-white campus; and at the University of Michigan, where he was the first black student to be named co-editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Michigan Daily.
He began his journalism career at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was one of two reporters assigned to cover the trial of kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst.
Warren, who teaches in Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, specializes in the study of inequality and American politics, focusing on the politics of marginalized groups. His research and teaching interests include labor organizing and politics, race and ethnic politics, urban politics and policy, American political development, community organizing, public policy and social science methodology.
At Columbia, Warren is also a faculty affiliate at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy.
“Dorian is a stellar young scholar who has examined race, labor relations and a host of issues about inequality,” says Ambar. “He will be able to approach the topic of post-racial America in a thoughtful and innovative way.”
Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw
Shaw received her Ph.D. in art history from Stanford University and served as assistant professor of art history and of African and African-American Studies at Harvard before joining Penn’s faculty in 2005.
Shaw’s first book, Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walker, was published by Duke University Press in 2004. Her most recent project, a museum exhibition and catalog titled “Portraits of a People: Picturing African-Americans in the Nineteenth Century,” has been shown at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Mass., the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, and the Long Beach Art Museum in California.
Shaw studies race, gender, sexuality and class in American art and is working on a book about such confluences in popular illustration and early film.
For further information on the lecture series, contact Ambar at firstname.lastname@example.org.