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Robert O'Meally

'This Music Demanded Action': The Challenge of the Core

"CUSP Annual NSOP Lecture"

Monday, August 29, 2016
12:00–2:00 p.m.
3rd Floor Lecture Hall, Journalism School

Professor O'Meally's welcome to Columbia accentuates certain definitive qualities of the core curriculum. Every text read there sharpens the mind and sets the table for a lifetime of learning. But is there a plan of action demanded by these novels, poems, pictures, and pieces of music? By these histories and philosophical tracts? At this time of worldwide turmoil and violence, what are the most urgent demands placed upon the world’s best students?


Robert G. O’Meally is Zora Neale Hurston Professor, Columbia University, and director of Columbia’s Center for Jazz Studies. His books include Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday, The Craft of Ralph Ellison, and Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey. He has edited or co-edited many volumes, including The Jazz Cadence of American Culture, History and Memory in African American Cultureand The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Several of his music projects have won awards; his co-produced Smithsonian box set, The Jazz Singers, nominated for a Grammy.  In recent years, O’Meally has served as art curator for Jazz at Lincoln Center, and has curated many other exhibitions, including one that traveled for the Smithsonian Institution and others presented in New York, Paris, and Istanbul. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, and many other places, including Les Cahiers du Musée National D’Art ModerneO’Meally is an amateur saxophonist whose sons say Dad plays “for his own amazement!”

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