The College of Arts and Science will host “Why Ota Benga Matters,” a Bentson Dean’s Lecture by NYU’s Pamela Newkirk, on Tues., April 5.
New York University’s College of Arts and Science will host “Why Ota Benga Matters,” a Bentson Dean’s Lecture by NYU’s Pamela Newkirk, on Tues., April 5, 5:30 p.m. in NYU’s Jurow Lecture Hall, Silver Center for Arts and Science, 100 Washington Square East (enter at 32 Waverly Place or 31 Washington Place [wheelchair accessible]).
In 1906, Ota Benga, a young man from the Congo, was caged and exhibited in the Bronx Zoo Monkey House. The exhibition inspired headlines across the country and drew nearly a quarter-million spectators. This episode raises troubling questions about what we know, and what we think we know, about our past and exposes the pervasiveness of early 20th-century racial attitudes that echo today.
In her work chronicling the exhibition, Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga (HarperCollins, 2015), Newkirk exposes century-old secrets and lies surrounding the circumstances of Benga’s life while charting the evolution of race and science at the dawn of the last century. The book was included on “Best Books of 2015” lists by NPR, the Boston Globe and the San Francisco Chronicle and won the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Non-Fiction.
Newkirk, a professor in NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, is an award-winning journalist whose articles have been published in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Nation, and ARTnews. She is the editor of Letters from Black America (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2009; Beacon Press, 2011) and A Love No Less: More Than Two Centuries of African American Love Letters (Doubleday 2004). She is also the author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media (NYU Press 2000), which won the National Press Club Award for Media Criticism.
The event is free and open to the public. Call 212.998.8154 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Entry is on a first-come, first-served basis. Subway Lines: 6 (Astor Place); N, R (8th Street); A, B, C, D, E, F, M (West 4th Street).