Type: Public event
Host: Ford School

Jelani Cobb on "The half-life of freedom: Notes on race, media and democracy"

Democracy in Crisis: Views from the Press


Jelani Cobb

Date & time

Jan 24, 2023, 6:00-7:30 pm EST


Wallace House Presents journalist and educator Jelani Cobb, in conversation with Ford School Dean Celeste Watkins-Hayes, as part of the continuing series: “Democracy in Crisis: Views from the Press.”

Cobb’s talk looks at the historic challenges to democracy that centered around race, the impact of the media, and how this frames and informs the current moment. 

How to attend

This is a non-ticketed event, and is free and open to the public. Registrations are not required but allow us to send you event updates and reminders. Seating at Rackham Auditorium is on a first-come, first-served basis.

A livestream option will also be available on this webpage. 

About Jelani Cobb

Jelani Cobb is the dean of Columbia Journalism School and a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he writes about race, politics, history and culture. He received a Peabody Award for his 2020 PBS Frontline film “Whose Vote Counts” and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary in 2018. He has also been a political analyst for MSNBC since 2019.

He is the author of “The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress” and “To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic.” He is the editor or co-editor of several volumes, including “The Matter of Black Lives,” a collection of The New Yorker’s writings on race, and “The Essential Kerner Commission Report.” He is the producer or co-producer on a number of documentaries, including “Lincoln’s Dilemma,” “Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union” and “Policing the Police.” 

Dr. Cobb was educated at Jamaica High School in Queens, New York; Howard University, where he earned a B.A. in English; and Rutgers University, where he completed his M.A. and doctorate in American history in 2003. He received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation and the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

About the series: Democracy in Crisis

In Spring 2022, the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Wallace House, and Democracy & Debate launched the series “Democracy in Crisis: Views from the Press,” hosting four award-winning journalists to share their insights into the forces threatening and protecting American democratic structures and systems. The series - which will continue into the 2022-23 academic year - also explores the current state of journalism and the role of the press in upholding democratic institutions.

This event is presented in partnership with the Wallace House, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and U-M Democracy & Debate, and co-sponsored by the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan. With support from our media partners at Detroit Public Television (DPTV) and PBS Books.