Originally broadcast at 10:45 a.m. ET Wednesday, July 27, 2022.
Jelani Cobb is a staff writer at The New Yorker, writing on race, history, justice, politics and democracy, as well as Columbia University’s Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism. During a historic election in the midst of a global pandemic, Cobb investigated allegations of voter fraud and disenfranchisement as a PBS “Frontline” correspondent in the documentary “Whose Vote Counts,” revealing how these unfounded claims entered the political mainstream and presenting how racial inequities, COVID-19, and voter suppression became interlinked crises, contributing to a long legacy of inequality. For tackling one of the key issues at the heart of modern U.S. politics and carefully elucidating what the fight for voting rights looks like in the 21st century, “Whose Vote Counts” received a Peabody Award and will frame Cobb’s discussion as part of the Chautauqua Lecture Series in a week on “The Vote and Democracy.” Cobb recently co-edited The Matter of Black Lives, a collection of The New Yorker’s most ground-breaking writing on Black history and culture in America, featuring the work of legendary writers like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. He also edited and wrote a new introduction for The Kerner Commission — a historic study of American racism and police violence originally published in 1967 — helping to contextualize it for a new generation. Cobb is the recipient of the Hillman Prize for opinion and analysis journalism, as well as the Walter Bernstein Award from the Writer’s Guild of America for his investigative work on the “Frontline” documentary “Policing the Police.” He is the author of Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, and To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations, and is a graduate of Howard University and Rutgers University where he received his PhD in American history.
About Chautauqua Institution: Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue. CHQ Assembly is the online expression of Chautauqua Institution's mission.