Marian Miner Cook
Athenaeum

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

January, 2021

Monday, January 25, 2021 - Evening Program
Where Opportunity Happens: How Neighborhoods Affect Social Mobility
Raj Chetty

Using the powerful lens of data and economics, Professor Raj Chetty will lay the intellectual, theoretical, and statistical groundwork to evaluate whether the American Dream still remains attainable today. A MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant awardee and one of the most esteemed public economists in the world, Chetty will draw on his data-rich, nationwide research to illustrate how a residential zip code–where a child grows up–is more predictive of social mobility and economic fate than any other national metric. With each street in the United States mapped onto his “Opportunity Atlas,” Chetty’s research foretells which neighborhoods in America offer children the best chance to rise out of poverty, determines where and for whom opportunity has been missing, and even suggests targeted solutions to help more children and families.

 Raj Chetty is the William A. Ackman Professor of Economics at Harvard University. Using extensive administrative databases drawn from tax and social security records in the United States, Chetty’s research combines empirical evidence and economic theory to help design more effective government policies. His work on topics ranging from tax policy and unemployment insurance to education and affordable housing has been widely cited in academia, media outlets, and Congressional testimony.

In 2012, Chetty received a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant for his rigorous theoretical and empirical studies in public economics illuminating the then-emerging field of behavioral public finance. His initial work focused on resolving inconsistencies in earlier theories of specific questions in public finance, such as how dividend tax cuts affect corporate behavior and how unemployment insurance affects job-seeking behavior. He has also designed empirical tests to gauge the impact of sales taxes on consumer demand in retail settings. Chetty has also explored a range of other questions, such as the effect of tax policy on how much people work, the extent to which tax deductions for retirement savings stimulate individual savings, and key aspects of early childhood education. By asking simple, penetrating questions, analyzing extensive data sets, and developing rigorous empirical tests, Chetty’s findings in applied economics illuminate key policy issues of our time.

Chetty received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2003 and is one of the youngest tenured professors in Harvard’s history. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, he was a professor at U.C. Berkeley and Stanford University. Chetty has received numerous awards for his research, including the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant and the John Bates Clark Medal, given to the economist under 40 whose work is judged to have made the most significant contribution to the field.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 - Evening Program
The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Peniel E. Joseph

To most Americans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. represent contrasting ideals: Self-defense versus nonviolence, Black power versus civil rights, the sword versus the shield. The struggle for Black freedom is wrought with the same contrasts. While nonviolent direct action is remembered as an unassailable part of American democracy, the movement's militancy is either vilified or erased outright. In this Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Lecture, Peniel E. Joseph, the Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin, upends these misconceptions and reveals a nuanced portrait of two men who, despite markedly different backgrounds, inspired and pushed each other throughout their adult lives. This is a strikingly revisionist biography, not only of Malcolm X. and Dr. King, but also of the movement and era they came to define.

Peniel E. Joseph holds a joint professorship appointment at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the History Department in the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. He is also the founding director of the LBJ School's Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. His career focus has been on "Black Power Studies," which encompasses interdisciplinary fields such as Africana studies, law and society, women's and ethnic studies, and political science.

Prior to joining the UT faculty, Joseph was a professor at Tufts University, where he founded the school's Center for the Study of Race and Democracy to promote engaged research and scholarship focused on the ways issues of race and democracy affect people's lives.

In addition to being a frequent commentator on issues of race, democracy, and civil rights, Joseph is the author of numerous books. His most recent book "The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr." was named a Time 100 Must-Read books of 2020, the Financial Times's Best Political Books of 2020, the Guardian's Best Books of 2020, a Times Literary Supplement Best Book of 2020, PEN America Biography Long List, and a New York Times Book review Editor's Pick. He is also the author of the award-winning books "Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America" and "Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama." His book "Stokely: A Life" has been called the definitive biography of Stokely Carmichael, the man who popularized the phrase "black power." Included among Joseph's other book credits is the editing of "The Black Power Movement: Rethinking" the "Civil Rights-Black Power Era" and "Neighborhood Rebels: Black Power at the Local Level."

Professor Joseph will deliver the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Lecture.