The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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The James Baldwin Lecture

The James Baldwin Lecture addresses issues connected to social, economic, and political justice and underpinnings in institutional racism. The lecture honors the late James Baldwin, who taught at UMass for several years. It was established by and made possible with generous support from History Department alumnus Dr. Allen J. Davis '68.

This lecture is co-presented by the Department of History, the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

2021 Baldwin Lecture: Young People Fighting for Climate Justice

Vanessa Nakate, Varshini Prakash '15 and more 

Young people have transformed the climate movement. Youth of color and youth from the Global South have been especially central in this process. Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, executive director of the Sunrise Movement Varshini Prakash ‘15, and other leading climate organizers will reflect on their personal experiences in the movement and share their organizing strategy, insights, and visions for the world they’re fighting to win. February 1, 2021,12pm. 

This event is offered in partnership with the 2020-2021 UMass Amherst History Department Feinberg Series, Planet on a Precipice: Histories and Futures of the Environmental Emergency.


Inagural Baldwin Lecture

In September 2018, the inaugural James Baldwin Lecturer was Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. In an event that drew some 1300 people to the Fine Arts Center, Barber, who is co-chair of the national Poor People’s Campaign and a MacArthur Genius Award winner, discussed the history of Reconstruction that followed Emancipation and the “second” Reconstruction of the 1960s. He then made the case for a “third” Reconstruction in the twenty-first century, entailing “a profoundly moral awakening of justice-loving people united in a fusion coalition powerful enough to reclaim the possibility of democracy.” Listen to speech.


Photo of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II behind a podium

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II