Undercover: UCLA Historian to Speak about the Secret Life of Journalist Grace Halsell

Historian Robin D. G. Kelley will visit campus April 16-18 for three lectures as part of the 2018 Carl Becker Lecture Series. The lectures are based on Kelley’s latest project – a biography of the late Grace Halsell, an American journalist who wrote about her experiences going undercover by passing as a black woman, an undocumented worker from Mexico and a right-wing Christian fundamentalist. 

The series, “A Female Candide: Inside the U.S. Empire with Ms. Grace Halsell,” will include three lectures: “War Zones, Hot and Cold (1950-1967)” on Monday, April 16; “In the Colonies of North America (1968-1978)” on Tuesday, April 17; and “Stranger in the Holy Land (1979-1986)” on Wednesday, April 18. All talks will be in Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall, at 4:30 PM.

“Professor Kelley has deeply influenced generations of historians and activists,” said Professor Penny Von Eschen, chair of this year’s Becker series. “His scholarship — ranging from books on Black working class politics to works on jazz, Black transnationalism and Black surrealism — has greatly enriched our appreciation of the astonishing depth and creativity of Black radical traditions and the Black radical imagination.”

Kelley is the distinguished professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History at UCLA. His research focuses on the history of social movements within the United States, the African Diaspora and Africa, and his most recent book, “Africa Speaks, America Answers!: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times” (Harvard University Press, 2012), explores the lives of four artists during the age of African decolonization.

The Carl Becker Lectures Series is sponsored by the Department of History and has brought distinguished historians to speak at Cornell for more than three decades.

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