Cobb teaches in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he recently accepted a duPont-Columbia Award on behalf of Duvernay for the documentary. A long-time staff writer at The New Yorker, Cobb has written a remarkable series of articles about race, the police, and injustice. His articles include “The Anger in Ferguson,” “Murders in Charleston,” and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Reparations.” He is the author of Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic, and The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Other Essays.
In awarding Cobb the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, the jury wrote, “No one has done a better job of placing [the events in Ferguson, MO]—and similar happenings in other places like Sanford, Florida, Cleveland, Ohio and Staten Island, New York—in their broader context than Jelani Cobb.” Further: “Cobb met the challenge of describing the turmoil in Ferguson in a way that cut through the frantic chaos of ‘breaking news’ and deepened readers’ understanding of what they were seeing, hearing, and feeling. Ferguson was not an aberration, he showed, but a microcosm of race relations in the United States—organically connected to the complicated legacy of segregation and the unpaid debts of slavery itself.”
Cobb was formerly Associate Professor of History at the University of Connecticut, where he was director of the Africana Studies Institute. He has received Fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations. His forthcoming book is Antidote to Revolution: African American Anticommunism and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1931. He is also the recipient of the Walter Bernstein Award from the Writer’s Guild of America for his investigative series Policing the Police, which aired on PBS' FRONTLINE.
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