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Prominent Authors and Commentators Michael Eric Dyson, John McWhorter to Speak on ‘Fostering a Diverse and Healthy Democracy’
Two prominent media commentators and thought leaders who express divergent views regarding free speech surrounding race and the portrayal of racial identity will visit campus Friday, March 31, to take part in a University-hosted lecture. Michael Eric Dyson, of Vanderbilt University and John McWhorter, of Columbia University, will speak on “Fostering a Diverse and Healthy Democracy in a Period of Polarization.”
The discussion begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Schine Student Center’s Goldstein Auditorium. The fireside chat-style conversation will be moderated by Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer Gretchen Ritter. Tickets are required for the event; visit Ticketmaster to claim your free ticket.
The event is co-hosted by the Office of Academic Affairs with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Student Experience, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
“The best conversations, the ones from which we learn the most, are often difficult, sometimes provocative, but always open and fair, presenting a range of views,” says Provost Ritter. “We look forward to hearing from Professors Dyson and McWhorter as they debate and discuss free speech issues and the health and future of our democracy.”
A prominent professor, preacher and author, Dyson is the Distinguished University Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies in the College of Arts and Science and Distinguished University Professor of Ethics and Society at the Divinity School at Vanderbilt. He has previously taught at Brown University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University, DePaul University, the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University. Known as one of America’s premier public intellectuals, he has authored more than 20 books, including seven New York Times best sellers. He also has been a well-known media commentator for 30-plus years on major radio and television shows and currently is also a political analyst for MSNBC. Dyson has won two NAACP Image Awards and an American Book Award, and last year was awarded the Langston Hughes Medal.
McWhorter teaches courses in linguistics, Western civilization and music history at Columbia University, specializing in language change and language contact. He has written extensively on issues related to linguistics and race for Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic and The Atlantic, and has discussed those topics as a guest on CNN. His books include “The Power of Babel,” “Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue,” “The Language Hoax,” “Words on the Move,” “Talking Back” and “Talking Black.” Two others, “Nine Nasty Words” and “Woke Racism,” were New York Times best sellers. He also hosts the Lexicon Valley language podcast, has authored six audiovisual sets on language for The Great Courses company, and writes a twice-weekly newsletter for The New York Times.
“The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is pleased to co-host this important conversation for today’s free-speech environment,” says Mary Grace Almandrez, vice president for diversity and inclusion. “We welcome professors Dyson and McWhorter to campus for open discussion on issues that matter to our SU community and are essential to moving society forward in advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.”
“Universities play a critical role in providing students exposure to a wide range of viewpoints and ideas in an environment that is respectful, is focused on intellectual growth and is welcoming,” says Allen Groves, senior vice president and chief student experience officer. “This lecture is just such an opportunity, featuring two prominent voices in the civic arena who model constructive engagement in a world that is increasingly fractured.”
“The breakdown of public discourse and open dialogue is one of the major ailments of our society today,” says Mark J. Lodato, dean of the Newhouse School. “Creating a place where free speech and the open marketplace of ideas are protected and valued is the obligation of higher education. This lecture is an example of how we do that, and how we can provide our students with the important opportunity to approach sometimes difficult topics with a willingness to learn and understand people whose viewpoints may be different from their own.”
“Co-hosting this lecture underscores the University’s belief that people can openly express opposing views as part of their active citizenship and public engagement,” says David M. Van Slyke, dean of the Maxwell School. “Learning to express frank opinions around provocative topics in civil and respectful ways is a valuable lesson for everyone, and it’s part of being responsibly engaged in today’s society. This lecture should offer useful insights into that awareness and process.”
To register for a ticket, visit Ticketmaster. Your ticket will be loaded into your MyCuse account; once loaded, download the ticket on your phone and add it to your mobile wallet. If you do not have a MyCuse account, please select “sign up” and follow the prompts to create an account. If you have a MyCuse account, but forgot your password, please select “forgot password” and a new password link will be sent to you. If you are having trouble managing your mobile ticket, please visit the step-by-step mobile ticketing guide for further assistance.
All tickets are mobile tickets and must be downloaded/added to your mobile wallet prior to the event. Please note: no screenshots of tickets will be accepted. Tickets are nontransferable or nonsalable; anyone who would like to attend is required to claim a ticket.
The Clear Bag Policy will be in effect for the event. Those attending will only be allowed to bring in either a clear bag that does not exceed 12” x 6” x 12” or a one-gallon clear plastic storage bag. In addition, small clutch bags for personal items, approximately 4.5” x 6.5, and diaper bags (with child) are allowed. Backpacks are not allowed.