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African-American Heritage Month Lecture: Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

This year’s African American Heritage Month Lecture will be delivered by author and historian Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, who will speak on “Racist Ideas in America: From Slavery to Black Lives Matter.”

Kendi is one of the nation’s most prolific and accomplished young professors of race, writing for and speaking to both scholarly and general audiences. This lecture builds on Kendi’s firm belief that in order to understand racism in America today, we must confront the history of anti-Black ideas. Kendi will discuss this history of racist ideas; beginning in 15th century Europe when they were used to legitimize slave trade, through to modern day America where unarmed human beings are being killed at the hands of law enforcement officials and #BlackLivesMatter is more than a movement. In shedding light on the history of racist ideas, he will give the audience the tools to expose them and reason to hope for the future.

Dr. Kendi will sign copies of his National Book Award winner for non-fiction, Stamped from the Beginning, at a reception after the lecture.

When Dr. Ibram X. Kendi won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2016 for a book about the history of racist ideas in America, some people felt a disconnect. Emerging from eight years of leadership under an African-American president, a narrative was building in America about the emergence of a post-racial society, colorblind to race and valuing merit over skin color. Kendi challenges this notion in his New York Times-bestselling book Stamped From The Beginning, taking an expansive view on race and racist ideas that spans from 15th century Europe until modern day America.

Kendi embarked on the research for his book under the assumption that the major producers of racist ideas were hateful and ignorant. And that borne from racist ideas were racist policies like slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration. But as Kendi dug deeper and contextualized motives, he began to gain a new understanding of the cause and effect actually at play. He soon discovered that political, economic, and cultural self-interest are behind the creation of racist policies and these policies in turn create the racist ideas that rationalize the deep inequities in everything from wealth to health.

Ibram X. Kendi is Professor of History and International Relations and the Founding Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. Kendi is a frequent public speaker who engages audiences in discussing the findings in his books and how they can fit into the national conversation surrounding movements such as #BlackLivesMatter.

Kendi has published numerous academic essays as well as op-eds in publications such as The New York TimesThe Huffington PostSalon, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He is also the author of the award-winning book, The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and the Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965-1972. In 2018, he was named a columnist for a new vertical of The Atlantic focusing on ideas, opinion, and political and cultural commentary. He is currently working on a book with One World/Random House, tentatively titled, How to Be an Antiracist: A Memoir of My Journey.

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