Safa Al Ahmad, a Saudi Arabian journalist and documentary filmmaker, will receive the 2019 Wallenberg Medal from the University of Michigan. She has produced documentaries for the BBC and PBS about uprisings in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Her 2014 BBC documentary, Saudi’s Secret Uprising, brought attention to government suppression of unreported popular demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. At great personal risk, she has been one of the few journalists to report from the ground on the crisis and conflict between Houthi rebels, militant groups, and the Yemeni government and its Saudi allies. Her documentaries for PBS’s Frontline, including “The Fight for Yemen” (2015), “Yemen Under Siege” (2016), and “Targeting Yemen” (2019), reveal the human cost and the underlying contending interests that are engaged in a deadly and complex regional conflict. As an Arab woman, she has won precious access to communities and human beings suffering in this war. Her courageous reporting has provided essential and intimate perspectives that challenge assumptions that often shape conventional journalistic narratives.
The medal will be awarded on November 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rackham Auditorium on the U-M campus, where Al Ahmad will give the Wallenberg Lecture.
The Wallenberg Medal and Lecture program honors the legacy of U-M graduate Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews near the end of World War II.
“Safa Al Ahmad shows how journalism can give a voice to persons who are voiceless and give witness to events that escape the world’s notice,” said John Godfrey, chair of the Wallenberg Committee. “She embodies the courage and commitment to human rights and human dignity that the Wallenberg Medal recognizes.”
The Wallenberg Medal and Lecture program honors Raoul Wallenberg who graduated from U-M’s College of Architecture in 1935. In 1944, at the request of Jewish organizations and the American War Refugee Board, the Swedish Foreign Ministry sent Wallenberg on a rescue mission to Budapest. Over the course of six months, Wallenberg issued thousands of protective passports and placed many thousands of Jews in safe houses throughout the besieged city. He confronted Hungarian and German forces to secure the release of Jews, whom he claimed were under Swedish protection, and saved more than 80,000 lives.
U-M awards the Wallenberg Medal annually to those who, through actions and personal commitment, perpetuate Wallenberg’s own extraordinary accomplishments and human values, and demonstrate the capacity of the human spirit to stand up for the helpless, to defend the integrity of the powerless, and to speak out on behalf of the voiceless. Safa Al Ahmad, through her courageous and outspoken work as a journalist and documentarian, demonstrates that one person, individually or collectively, can make a difference in the struggle for a better world.
Last year was historic in that the Wallenberg Medal was awarded to two youth-led organizations committed to ending gun violence, March For Our Lives of Parkland, Florida and The B.RA.V.E. Youth Leaders of Chicago. Recent recipients of the Wallenberg Medal include Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative; Masha Gessen, Russian-American author and activist; and Maria Gunnoe, environmentalist and social justice activist from rural West Virginia. A complete list of the twenty-six past recipients, along with video or transcripts of their lectures, can be found at the Wallenberg website (wallenberg.umich.edu).
The November 19 medal presentation and lecture is open to the public at no charge and will not be ticketed.
Angela Davis has been deeply involved in movements for social justice around the world, through her activism and scholarship over many decades. Her work as an educator – both at the university level and in the larger public sphere – has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice.
Professor Davis’ teaching career has taken her to San Francisco State University, Mills College, and UC Berkeley. She also has taught at UCLA, Vassar, Syracuse University the Claremont Colleges, and Stanford University. Most recently she spent fifteen years at the University of California Santa Cruz where she is now Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness – an interdisciplinary Ph.D program – and of Feminist Studies.
Angela Davis is the author of ten books and has lectured throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early seventies as a person who spent eighteen months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.” She also has conducted extensive research on numerous issues related to race, gender and imprisonment. Her recent books include Abolition Democracy and Are Prisons Obsolete? about the abolition of the prison industrial complex, a new edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and a collection of essays entitled The Meaning of Freedom. Her most recent book of essays, called Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, was published in February 2016.
Angela Davis is a founding member of Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. Internationally, she is affiliated with Sisters Inside, an abolitionist organization based in Queensland, Australia that works in solidarity with women in prison.
Like many educators, Professor Davis is especially concerned with the general tendency to devote more resources and attention to the prison system than to educational institutions. Having helped to popularize the notion of a “prison industrial complex,” she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st century abolitionist movement.
Co-sponsored by the University of Michigan Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium; the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, a unit in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Michigan Athletics; and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business with support from the William K. McInally Memorial Lecture Fund.
Free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided beginning at 11:30 am: Click here(link is external) to provide lunch dietary restrictions. RSVP does not guarantee a seat– first come first seated until room is full. (Overflow seating available to watch livestream.)
Dessert reception to follow.
This event will be livestreamed. Please check back here just before the event for viewing details.
Join us for an arm-chair conversation between Ambassador Susan Rice and Michael Barr, Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, as they discuss Ambassador Rice’s distinguished career and her book, Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For. Recalling pivotal moments from her dynamic career on the front lines of American diplomacy and foreign policy—as National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations—Ambassador Rice’s memoir delivers an inspiring account of a life in service to family and country.
From the speaker’s bio:
Ambassador Susan E. Rice served as U.S. National Security Advisor and U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations under President Barack Obama. In her role as National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017, Ambassador Rice led the National Security Council staff of approximately 400 defense, diplomatic, intelligence, and development experts. As U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a member of President Obama’s cabinet from 2009 to 2013, Ambassador Rice worked to advance U.S. interests, defend universal values, strengthen the world’s security and prosperity, and promote respect for human rights.
Prior to these roles, Ambassador Rice also served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council, and as Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping on the National Security Council staff. Currently she is a Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Ambassador Rice received her master’s degree and PhD in international relations from New College of Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She received her BA in history with honors and distinction from Stanford University, where she was junior Phi Beta Kappa and a Truman Scholar. In 2017, French president Francois Hollande presented Ambassador Rice with the Award of Commander, the Legion of Honor of France, for her contributions to Franco-American relations. She is also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and the author of the best-selling memoir, Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For.
The history of racism in the South is well known—the chain gangs, lynch mobs and views of black southern criminals that defined the Jim Crow period are, for the most part, common knowledge today. But what do we know about the role the urban North played in shaping views on the intersection of race and crime in American society?
In this talk, Khalil Gibran Muhammad reveals how the idea of black criminality was crucial to the making of modern urban America, as were African Americans’ own ideas about race and crime. In the North, crime statistics, immigration trends, and references to America as the “land of opportunity” were woven into a cautionary tale about the threat Black people posed to modern urban society. Excessive arrest rates and overrepresentation in Northern prisons were pointed to by whites—liberals and conservatives alike—as proof of Blacks’ inferiority. The prevailing feeling was that, in the heyday of “separate but equal,” what else but pathology could explain Black people’s challenges in the “land of opportunity”?
Chronicling the beginning of the deeply embedded notion of Black people as a dangerous race of criminals, Muhammed explores a different side of the history of racism, weaving a narrative that is both engaging and educational.
Khalil Gibran Muhammad is author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, which won the John Hope Franklin Best Book Award in American Studies. Also the Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. Muhammad is a contributor to a National Research Council study, The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences. Recently, he also appeared in several popular documentaries, lending his expertise to Ava DuVernay’s Netflix feature, 13th , Slavery By Another Name (PBS), and Forgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football.
Muhammad is the former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library and the world’s leading library and archive of global black history. Much of his research focuses on racial criminalization in modern U.S. history. His work has been featured in a number of f national print and broadcast media outlets, including The New York Times—notably as one of the contributors to its’ viral 1619 Project, which explores and exposes the true history of slavery in America— The New Yorker, The Washington Post, NPR, and MSNBC. Muhammad was an associate editor of The Journal of American History and prior Andrew W. Mellon fellow at the Vera Institute of Justice. He holds a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, two honorary doctorates, and is on the board of The Museum of Modern Art, The Barnes Foundation, and The Nation magazine.
Journalism is often called the first draft of history. But journalism can also be used as a powerful tool for examining history.
Four hundred years ago, in August 1619, a ship carrying enslaved Africans arrived in the English colony of Virginia, establishing the system of slavery on which the United States was built.
With The 1619 Project, The New York Times is prompting conversation and debate about the legacy of slavery and its influence over American society and culture. From mass incarceration to traffic jams, the project seeks to reframe our understanding of American history and the fight to live up to our nation’s central promise.
Wallace House Presents the project’s creator, New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, in conversation with Rochelle Riley, longtime journalist and columnist.
Nikole Hannah-Jones is a domestic correspondent for The New York Times Magazine focusing on racial injustice. She has written on federal failures to enforce the Fair Housing Act, the resegregation of American schools and policing in America. Her extensive reporting in both print and radio on the ways segregation in housing and schools is maintained through official action and policy has earned the National Magazine Award, a Peabody and a Polk Award. Her work designing “The 1619 Project” has been met with universal acclaim. The project was released in August 2019 to mark the 400th anniversary of American slavery and re-examines the role it plays in the history of the United States.
Hannah-Jones earned her bachelor’s in history and African-American studies from the University of Notre Dame and her master’s in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Rochelle Riley was a 2007-2008 Knight-Wallace Fellow and is the Director of Arts and Culture for the City of Detroit. For nineteen years she was a columnist at the Detroit Free Press. Riley is author of “The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery” and the upcoming “That They Lived: Twenty African Americans Who Changed The World.” She has won numerous national, state and local honors, including the 2017 Ida B. Wells Award from the National Association of Black Journalists for her outstanding efforts to make newsrooms and news coverage more accurately reflect the diversity of the communities they serve and the 2018 Detroit SPJ Lifetime Achievement Award alongside her longtime friend, Walter Middlebrook. She was a 2016 inductee into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.
This is a 2020 Annual U-M Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium event.
U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
U-M Center for Social Solutions
Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Literati is pleased to be on hand as a bookseller for the University of Michigan LSA Honors Program’s Leland Stowe Memorial Lecture, delivered by author Anu Partanen.
The lecture celebrates the best in journalism, broadly understood. Stowe was a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1930 and one of the early American journalists to raise concerns about Hitler’s rise to power. During World War II, he was a war correspondent. He was a Professor of Journalism at the University of Michigan 1956–1969 and died in 1994.
Anu Partanen’s work has appeared in the New York Times and the Atlantic. A journalist in Helsinki for many years, she has also worked at Fortune magazine as a visiting reporter through the Innovation Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University. She lives in New York City.
Literati is pleased to be on hand as a bookseller as the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan presents Jennifer Hirsch and Shamus Khan, authors of Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power and Assault on Campus.
The fear of campus sexual assault has become an inextricable part of the college experience. But why is sexual assault such a common feature of college life? And what can be done to prevent it? Drawing on the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation (SHIFT) at Columbia University, the most comprehensive study of sexual assault on a campus to date, Jennifer S. Hirsch and Shamus Khan’s new book presents an entirely new framework that emphasizes sexual assault’s social roots, transcending current debates about consent, predators in a “hunting ground,” and the dangers of hooking up.
Based on years of research interviewing and observing college life―with students of different races, genders, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic backgrounds―Hirsch and Khan’s study reveals the social ecosystem that makes sexual assault so predictable, explaining how physical spaces, alcohol, peer groups, and cultural norms influence young people’s experiences and interpretations of both sex and sexual assault.
Book sales and signing will follow the discussion.
Cosponsors: Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC), Departments of American Culture, Sociology, Women’s Studies, School of Education
2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the admission of women to U-M. Andrea Turpin, associate professor of history at Baylor University and author of the recent award-winning book, A New Moral Vision: Gender, Religion, and the Changing Purposes of American Higher Education, 1837-1917, will speak on the struggle for women’s admission at U-M and the experiences of women students here during the early decades of coeducation. This lecture is part of a new monthly series on the history of the University, sponsored by the Bentley Historical Library.
Dr. Andrea L. Turpin is Associate Professor of History at Baylor University. Her first book, A New Moral Vision: Gender, Religion, and the Changing Purposes of American Higher Education, 1837-1917 (Cornell, 2016) explores how the entrance of women into U.S. colleges and universities shaped changing ideas about the moral and religious purposes of higher education in unexpected ways, and in turn profoundly shaped American culture. The book has won three awards: the 2018 biennial Linda Eisenmann Prize from the History of Education Society for the best first book on the history of higher education, the 2017 Lilly Fellows Program Biennial Book Award for scholarship from any field related to religion and higher education, and Baylor University’s 2016 Guittard Book Award for Historical Scholarship. Dr. Turpin has also published several peer-reviewed articles in journals including the History of Education Quarterly, Perspectives in the History of Higher Education, and The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Her second book project, tentatively entitled A Debate of Their Own: Educated Women in the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy, positions college-educated women as key players in the narrative of the Protestant fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the early twentieth century, the split between theological and social liberals and conservatives which many credit with giving birth to the modern culture wars. Dr. Turpin is co-chair of the Higher Education affinity group of the History of Education Society and serves on the Council of the American Society of Church History. She contributes to the group blog The Anxious Bench and tweets @AndreaLTurpin.
Dr. Elizabeth Goodenough explores the landscapes of the Great Lakes as they shape the lives of children, writers, and illustrators. She offers images and tales of lighthouses and shipwrecks from the inland seas, a biosphere with the power to influence artists forever. Stories of displaced children, indigenous youth, and runaways portray stormy passages. What geography constitutes “home” in picture books, Y/A and graphic novels, legends, and film? How do we retain and preserve the settings we first encountered? Goodenough investigates how a sense of belonging and becoming abides within, sustaining or haunting a lifetime. In this session we recall regional memories, ideas about nature, and narratives of outdoor exploration. Registration is encouraged but not required.
Goodenough has taught literature at Harvard, Claremont McKenna, and Sarah Lawrence colleges, and the University of Michigan. She has published several volumes in Childhood Studies, and her award-winning PBS documentary, Where Do the Children Play?, helped initiate a national dialogue on outdoor play.
Immediately following the presentation, we invite you to this month’s Special Collections After Hours Event, The Great Lakes in Children’s Literature.
Free and open to the public. Reception and book signing to follow.
Join us for a reading by Lacy M. Johnson, author of The Reckonings and professor of creative nonfiction at Rice University. David Morse, Lecturer at the Ford School’s Writing Center, will moderate the conversation and Q&A.
From the speaker’s bio:
Lacy M. Johnson is a Houston-based professor, curator, activist, and is author of The Reckonings, which was named a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist in Criticism and one of the best books of 2018 by Boston Globe, Electric Literature, Autostraddle, Book Riot, and Refinery 29. She is also author of The Other Side. For its frank and fearless confrontation of the epidemic of violence against women, The Other Side was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime, the CLMP Firecracker Award in Nonfiction; it was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writer Selection for 2014, and was named one of the best books of 2014 by Kirkus, Library Journal, and the Houston Chronicle. She is also author of Trespasses: A Memoir, which has been anthologized in The Racial Imaginary and Literature: The Human Experience.
She worked as a cashier at WalMart, sold steaks door-to-door, and puppeteered with a traveling children’s museum before earning a PhD from University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, where she was both an Erhardt Fellow and Inprint Fondren Fellow. As a writer and artist, she has been awarded grants and fellowships from the Houston Endowment, Rice University’s Humanities Research Center, Houston Arts Alliance, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Kansas Arts Commission (may it rest in peace), the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, Inprint, and Millay Colony for the Arts. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Tin House, Guernica, Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction, Sentence, TriQuarterly, Gulf Coast and elsewhere. She teaches creative nonfiction at Rice University and is the Founding Director of the Houston Flood Museum.