About the Speaker
With wit, style, and erudition Jelani Cobb is one of the clearest voices in current conversations about race. A staff writer for The New Yorker, he’s an expert on how race, politics, history and popular culture intersect in America, and is known for sharing his brilliant opinions on current events in real time—for example, Jelani is featured in the hit Netflix documentary 13th, which explores the origins of mass incarceration in America. Author of the highly-acclaimed book The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, he also writes on more pressing and somber issues, like police brutality, voter access, racial discord, and partisan polarization. As the preeminent voice on these matters, Jelani eloquently explores how the past looms in our contemporary societal landscape and how we can collectively push towards a more equitable America.
This lecture is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Capital Community College Foundation and presented as a collaboration between Capital Community College, The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
Sarah Lewis ('22)
Sarah Elizabeth Lewis is an associate professor at Harvard University in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Department of African and African American Studies. Her research focuses on the intersection of African American and Black Atlantic visual representation, racial justice, and representational democracy in the United States from the nineteenth century through the present.
Her award-winning “Vision & Justice” issue of Aperture magazine received the 2017 Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research from the International Center of Photography and launched the larger Vision and Justice Project, based on the topic of her core curriculum course at Harvard University.
In 2019, she became the inaugural recipient of the Freedom Scholar Award, presented by The Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The award honors Lewis for her body of work and its “direct positive impact on the life of African-Americans.” In 2021, Lewis was the recipient of the Frieze New York tribute for her Vision & Justice Project.
Lewis received the 2022 American Philosophical Association’s Arthur Danto/American Society for Aesthetics Prize for the paper, “Groundwork: Race and Aesthetics in the Era of Stand Your Ground Law,” published in Art Journal, which outlines much of her forthcoming book, Groundwork. The prize is awarded for “the best paper in the field of aesthetics, broadly understood.”
Her forthcoming publications include Caucasian War: How Race Changed Sight in America (Harvard University Press, 2022), The Vision and Justice Project (One World/Random House), and a manuscript focusing on the “groundwork” of contemporary arts in the context of Stand Your Ground Laws. Lewis is the editor, with Christine Garnier, of an anthology on the work of Carrie Mae Weems (MIT Press, 2021) and the author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Simon & Schuster, 2014), a story-driven investigation of advantages gleaned from improbable foundations, even failure, in the creative process. The work has been translated into seven languages to date.
Her essays on race, contemporary art and culture have been published in many journals as well as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Artforum, Art Journal, Art in America, Law & Literature, and for the Smithsonian, The Museum of Modern Art, and Rizzoli.
Her research has received support from the Ford Foundation, the Hutchins Center at Harvard University, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, the Whiting Foundation and the Lambent Foundation.
Before joining the faculty at Harvard, she held curatorial positions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Tate Modern, London. She also served as a Critic at Yale University School of Art. She has served on the boards of the Andy Warhol Foundation of the Visual Arts, The Brearley School, and The CUNY Graduate Center and is a current board member of Creative Time, Thames & Hudson Inc., and Harvard Design Press and serves on the Yale University Honorary Degrees Committee. A frequent speaker at universities and conferences, her mainstage TED talk, Embrace the Near Win, has received over 2.9 million views. Her scholarship and research have been profiled by outlets including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, an M. Phil from Oxford University, and her Ph.D. from Yale University.
She lives in New York and Cambridge, MA.
Christopher L. Webber ('22)
Christopher L. Webber, a graduate of Princeton University and the General Theological Seminary in New York (with two earned degrees and an honorary doctorate from the latter) , is the author of American to the Backbone: the biography of James W.C. Pennngton, and some thirty-five other books ranging from The Beowulf Trilogy, his own translation of the old English saga and the first two sequels, to a hymnal published this year called The Sharon Hymnal: Songs of Justice, Peace, and Love.
Webber has given lectures and workshops on his various books in a number of states and has given readings from The Beowulf Trilogy in libraries and bookstores as well as on television.
Webber grew up in Cuba, New York, and served parishes in Brooklyn, Tokyo, and Bronxville, New York after being ordained. He has climbed Mt. Fuji as well as the highest peaks in New York and New England, and traveled widely in Europe and Asia with his wife, Margaret Webber. He now lives in San Francisco where he is assisting in a local church and enjoying city life after twenty years of retirement and part-time ministry in rural Connecticut.
About the Panelists ('22)
Antoinette Brim-Bell (Moderator) is the author of three full-length poetry collections: These Women You Gave Me, Icarus in Love, and Psalm of the Sunflower. She is a Cave Canem Foundation fellow and an alumna of Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA). Her poetry, memoir, and critical work have appeared in various journals, magazines, and anthologies. Additionally, Brim-Bell has hosted a series of Black History Month television programs for the OneWorld Progressive Institute and is a former recurring guest host of Patrick Oliver’s Literary Nation Talk Radio (KABF 88.3, Little Rock) for which she interviewed a variety of entertainers, literary figures, political pundits and community developers. A sought-after speaker, editor, educator, and consultant, Brim-Bell is a Professor of English at Capital Community College.
Femi Bogle-Assegai (Panelist) is a 40-year veteran of education, community activism and professional excellence within communities in the United States, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. She has taught, trained, coached, managed, and administered a wide variety of programs within the areas of Law, Economics, Political Science, Social Science, and the Humanities. Her expertise and experience are extensive and global – located within the public and private sector, from Community Based Organizations, Municipal Government, State Government to the Corporate Board Room. Ms. Bogle-Assegai currently works as an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Capital Community College. She is a graduate of the University of London, the University of Westminster, UMass at Amherst (exchange student), and a PIER Fellow at Yale University.
Joy Lee (Panelist) is a student at Capital Community College, majoring in History. She is a member of Capital’s Student Book Club and Treasurer for Black Student Union.
Nachum Levitan (Panelist) is founder and President of the Student Book Club at Capital Community College, Secretary of the Student Government association, Phi Theta Kappa honor society Member, and a Dean’s List student.
Dr. Josiah Ricardo (Panelist) has been a Professor of Sociology and Program Coordinator Human Services/Social Services Degree for 23 years at Capital Community College. His area of expertise includes online learning and teaching, culturally responsive pedagogy, service-learning pedagogy, and Latinx studies. He presently serves on the Connecticut State College and University Statewide Equity Council and served on the Statewide Guided Pathways Task Force. Presently, he serves on the Student Success Work Group, Hispanic Services Institution Grant Advising Group (Title V), and Hartford Black Heritage Project Group at Capital Community College. He is also a research assistant working with Social Work Faculty examining Cultural Relevant Pedagogy in the Baccalaureate Social Work Curriculum at all four CT state universities. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College, a master’s degree from UCONN, and a doctoral degree from the American College of Education. His dissertation titled: Online Course Persistence Experienced by Hispanic and Latinx Community College Students.
Dr. Cleo Rolle (Panelist) is an Associate Professor and the Program Coordinator of the Biotechnology Program at Capital Community College. She earned her BA in biology from Macalester College and PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Miami. As a Postdoctoral Scholar at The University of Chicago, she investigated the immune responses to brain tumors and genetic alterations in thoracic cancers. Since joining the faculty at Capital, she has spearheaded the revision of biology courses to incorporate active learning strategies and course-based undergraduate research experiences. Dr. Rolle aims to cultivate a transformative environment for historically underserved students in STEM fields so that they can begin to envision themselves as scientists. She is involved in national efforts to address equity and diversity in undergraduate biology education.
Dr. Adolfo Sanchez-Blanco (Panelist) is Assistant Professor of Biology and Health Science A.S. Program Coordinator at Capital Community College. B.S. (Biology) and M.S. (Ecology) from University of Salamanca, Spain; Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from University of Connecticut; Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University School of Medicine; Postdoctoral Scientist at Spanish National Research Council (Salamanca, Spain). Adolfo is an advocate for liberal arts education and is especially attuned to humanities perspectives in the field of science. He is also a Biology influencer (@dr.bioforever) with more than 225,000 followers on TikTok.