Lecture Series Archives
Why Isn't Our Government Working—And Can It?
November 18, 2013, Staller Center Main Stage
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein, is an author, political analyst and Visiting Presidential Professor at Stony Brook University. For 40 years, Bernstein’s books, reporting and commentary have revealed the inner workings of government, politics and the hidden stories of Washington and its leaders. In the early 1970s, Bernstein and Bob Woodward broke the Watergate story for The Washington Post, leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon and setting the standard for modern investigative reporting, for which they and The Post were awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Since then, Bernstein has continued to build on the theme he and Woodward first explored in the Nixon years — the use and abuse of power: political, media, financial and cultural.
On November 18, 2013, Bernstein’s lecture “Why Isn’t Our Government Working – And Can It?” stressed the importance of determining what news is. He also focused on the two overriding stories of today — the breakdown of the political system and whether it can be fixed, as well as whether we are going to be a nation of the wealthy, for the wealthy, by the wealthy at the expense of the great majority of our people.
At the end of Bernstein’s lecture, he specifically addressed Stony Brook’s students by saying that young people know they have been wronged. “If we are going to undo what has been done, we have to understand our history and how we got here,” said Bernstein. “And I sense from my students this great desire to understand this history. And one thing’s for sure: The best obtainable version of the truth has got to be part of the process of undoing…I look forward to hearing from you.”
Marian Wright Edelman
Best known as the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), Marian Wright Edelman has long been at the forefront of advocacy for children and disadvantaged Americans. When she began her career in law in the 1960s, she broke barriers as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar. She continued to pioneer civil rights causes through her involvement in the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Office and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign. Mrs. Edelman’s contributions to civil rights efforts are too numerous to list, but one only needs to pick up one of her books to understand the magnitude of her commitment to promoting basic freedoms for all Americans.
On May 7, 2013, Mrs. Edelman shared her story and thoughts on how we can best ensure a level playing field for all children. Her most visible contribution to this goal has been the establishment of the CDF Freedom Schools, which promote enrichment for underprivileged children through a balanced curriculum and supportive environment. At the culmination of Mrs. Edelman’s lecture, President Stanley announced that Stony Brook University would sponsor a CDF Freedom School during the summer.
Interested to learn about Stony Brook University’s 2013 CDF Freedom School? Please visit: http://www.stonybrook.edu/sb/features-freedom.html
Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West Award-winning broadcasters Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West came to Stony Brook on April 26, 2012, to discuss their book The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto. The dynamic duo challenged the audience to re-examine assumptions about poverty in America, ask what poverty really is, and how to eradicate it.
Tavis Smiley is a broadcaster, author, advocate and philanthropist who is an outstanding voice for change. He is the first American to host signature talk shows simultaneously on both public television and public radio. In addition to his radio and television work, Smiley has authored more than 15 books. In 2009, he was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
Dr. Cornel West is a revered educator and philosopher. He is the Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies. Known as one of America’s most gifted, provocative, and important democratic intellectuals, Dr. West is the author of the contemporary classic Race Matters, which changed the course of America’s dialogue on race and justice; the New York Times bestseller Democracy Matters; and the memoir Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. He is the author of 17 other texts and recipient of the American Book Award. Dr. West holds more than 20 honorary degrees.