Journalist Gary Younge closes out ASU Black History Month

February 24, 2014

Author and journalist Gary Younge holds a unique position in the world of modern reporting. A columnist and feature writer for the Guardian of London, Younge’s “beat” for more than a decade has been race in America, to which he brings a global perspective and level of contextual analysis uncommon in today’s journalism.

Born in Britain to Barbadian parents, Gary Younge taught English in a United Nations Eritrean refugee school in Sudan before attending university in Scotland. He joined the Guardian in 1993, reporting all over Europe, Africa, the United States and the Caribbean before being appointed the newspaper’s New York correspondent in 2003. Younge has been based in Chicago since 2011. author, journalist Gary Younge Download Full Image

This week, the renowned writer and social analyst will be at Arizona State University presenting two community lectures as part of Black History Month celebrations at ASU. His visit is sponsored by African and African American Studies in the School of Social Transformation, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

From 4-6 p.m., Feb. 27, Younge will present a lecture titled "From Ignominy to Icon: Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom," sharing insights gained in his interviews with and coverage of Mandela during his post-prison years.

From 10 a.m. to noon, Feb. 28, Younge and ASU professor of English Keith Miller will conduct a dialogue on Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, which they both have written about.

Both events will be held in West Hall, room 135 on the ASU Tempe campus.

“Gary Younge is an influential voice in the world who offers keen observations on critical issues affecting blacks in the U.S. and the Diaspora,” says professor Arna “Alex” Bontemps, faculty head of African and African American Studies. “His craftsmanship as a writer and his level of contextual analysis and insight hearken back to a time in American journalism when many columnists were public intellectuals and the commentary of reporters like Eric Sevareid captured the nation’s attention.”

Bontemps, himself a trained journalist-turned-historian who worked a number of years at the Tennessean (sharing a desk for two years with a talented reporter named Al Gore) and Ebony magazine, recognizes something quite special in Younge’s ability to offer critical analysis that is not oppositional.

“Gary’s interviews with Nelson Mandela for the Guardian were really insightful, very respectful and conveyed a serious engagement with the issues Mandela represented,” he continues. “But he saw him unromantically, and the impact of his reflection helped readers come to a mature understanding of the overall quality of Mandela’s unique character.”

Bontemps says that Younge, in his book "The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King's Dream," reconstructed the milieu of 1963 and the days leading up to the March on Washington as deftly as any historian: “He talked with almost everybody still alive who was there that day and involved, bringing you up to that day moment by moment and contextualizing all that was resonating in the atmosphere.”

The late Stuart Hall, a leading scholar in cultural studies, described the book and Younge this way: "Unfailingly insightful, illuminating and well-informed on the subjects that matter, with a genius for finding the place, the witness, the anecdote, the event, the detail, the angle which takes the reader right to the heart of the matter. Gary is one of the tiny handful of contemporary journalists left who is consistently worth reading. A voice for our times."

Younge’s other books include: "No Place Like Home: A Black Briton's Journey Through the American South," "Stranger in a Strange Land: Encounters in the Disunited States," and "Who Are We – and Should It Matter in the 21st Century?"

Gary Younge was named Newspaper Journalist of the Year by the Ethnic Minority Media Awards in the United Kingdom for three straight years, nominated for Foreign Journalist of the Year in 2000 for his reporting from Zimbabwe, and in 2009 earned the prestigious James Cameron Prize for the “combined moral vision and professional integrity” of his reports on the Obama campaign.

Younge has written for the Los Angeles Times, GQ Style, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Hello! He also helped produce the BBC television documentaries "Keepin' it Real: On the Trial of Sean 'Puff Daddy' Combs," and "Minister of Rage," on the banning of Louis Farrakhan from the UK.

For additional information about Gary Younge's visit, contact Stanlie James, professor of African and African American studies and women and gender studies, or the School of Social Transformation at 480-965-7682.

Maureen Roen

Director, Creative Services, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


$1M Carnegie Investment Fund to launch high-impact ASU projects in humanities

February 24, 2014

ASU President Michael M. Crow has created a $1 million Carnegie Humanities Investment Fund (CHIF) to launch high-impact, collaborative projects in the humanities. Open to any faculty member doing work in the humanities, the fund is supported by President Crow’s $500,000 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award and another $500,000 from the president’s initiative fund.

“What we hope to accomplish is to enhance the means through which human cultures understand themselves. Projects that are collaborative and built upon robust infrastructure can infuse humanities across all academic areas to change the world for the better,” said George Justice, dean of humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and associate vice president for humanities and arts in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development (OKED). portrait of ASU President Michael M. Crow Download Full Image

According to Justice, humanities projects already under way will be considered, but he will speak to any faculty member who believes he or she has an appropriate proposal. Justice envisions such possible interdisciplinary project areas as medical humanities, sustainability humanities, computational history and creating an infrastructure for oral history projects.

He emphasized that the fund provides only seed funding, and the projects must be large-scale, with a team in place and a plan for acquiring external support.

"This important investment further solidifies ASU's commitment to advancing humanities and recognizes the immense contribution of humanities to many disciplines and every aspect of our lives,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president of OKED. “Our approach to scholarly and research activities in humanities has made ASU a national model and CHIF will further strengthen the growth of innovative projects.”

Humanities research has often focused on the individual scholar pursuing projects generated by the scholar's background and an informal survey of interests of the research community. The research product is generally a publication in either journal article or book form, mostly intended for reading by fellow scholars. Impact largely remains within the scholarly community, which assesses the extent of impact through book reviews and often poorly counted citations in future publications.

Funding for traditional humanities research has largely focused on buying out teaching time of faculty members and providing access to unique archival resources. In contrast, funding provided by the CHIF will focus on the technological and human infrastructure that will enable new modes of research with a wide variety of research products, many of which will be iterative, with commercial as well as academic impact.

Some projects funded by the CHIF will be internal to ASU, but others will include collaborations with other institutions, including cultural institutions in Arizona and universities in the United States and internationally.

With ASU already home to one of the top-funded set of humanities researchers nationally, the CHIF seeks to have major influence on humanities research, and have critically important impact on a world that is hungry for knowledge about the past, present and future of humanity in a complex and rapidly changing world, said Justice.

The fund provides opportunities for scholars in the humanities to change both the content and the nature of their work.

The process for the Carnegie Humanities Investment Fund will follow the process of the already-successful President's Strategic Investment Fund at ASU. Justice, as the dean of humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will be responsible for evaluating projects and recommending awards.

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU News

(480) 965-9657