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Columbia Public Writing Series Returns 11/18: Jelani Cobb on Critical Race Theory

What is critical race theory (CRT), how did it enter public discourse, and what role did it play in the most recent U.S. elections? On Thursday, November 18, in the third event of the Columbia Public Writing series, Jelani Cobb, the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia Journalism School and writer for The New Yorker, will join in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Professional Studies to chronicle the origins of the theory—dating to the 1980s with legal scholar Derrick Bell—and discuss how it’s been used in American culture wars over the last year and a half. 

Drawing on his recent profile of Bell, “The Man Behind Critical Race Theory,” Cobb will clarify the definition of CRT and examine his own and his peers’ writings in shaping the public’s perception of CRT today.

The conversation will be moderated by distinguished professors and senior leaders at Columbia University: Amy Hungerford, the Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences; Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Ruth Fulton Benedict Professor of English and Comparative Literature; and will be joined by Fredrick C. Harris, Professor of Political Science, and the Dean of Social Sciences for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

This is the third event in the Columbia Public Writing Series, where renowned writers examine the art of writing for public audiences. From sentence-level analyses of craft to wider discussions of how a specific piece of writing addresses critical issues of the day, such as incarceration, climate change, and refugee crises, the sessions share tactics and tools to produce compelling and persuasive storytelling.